How many kings step down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that is torn all apart
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?
-How Many Kings, Downwhere
Years ago, the Christmas spirit meant the December breeze, the smell of roasted ham, and the twinkling lights at home. It felt good, sentimental, and peaceful.
But this year, I find that the Christmas spirit descended like an intense, awestruck feeling upon the realization of the Savior’s birth. The reality of the first Christmas was not a warm home, a full belly, and new gifts by midnight. Instead, it was a cold, bloody, and smelly scene. Perhaps even the grittiest Nativity figures of today would appear too clean and too pretty!
Mary had to travel pregnant, no less. Joseph found no home in his hometown. A delicate baby had to sleep in an animal feed box, and there was no mention of an angel’s visitation. This was how the Lord of Lords made an entrance to the fallen world. The all-powerful Son, just a child in his mother’s arm, was destined to die more violently than we can ever imagine.
If we find the idea of sacrificing an innocent child preposterous, then what lengths have the Holy Father gone to send his own? We are a hopeless people destined to be eradicated by our own doing. It is completely mind-blowing and incomprehensible that no amount of negotiation would make the trade of the full cost of his forgiveness acceptable. It makes “Merry Christmas” such a one-sided notion.
Jesus grew up going against the world. He taught forgiveness and celebrated suffering. He cleansed lepers and favored the poor. He moved sinners’ hearts across the world, across generations. Most of all, he finished his life on earth hanging on the cross more messy and bloody than he entered it. His Love is supernaturally overwhelming. Just realizing it makes me fall on my knees and makes me hope that I would stay there, never forgetting.
No wonder Jesus called us to believe – His grace elicits total gratitude for those who treasure in their hearts the immensity of His Love. It brings us a new reason to rejoice exceedingly for we have received far more than we have given, and more than what has been taken away from us.
The weight of God’s Love is the only thing that makes Christmas. You can take away the cliche Christmas spirit and our cup would still overflow. We would have missed so much if we don’t find this real!
I pray that we will be able to relish the salvation Jesus paid for us. And if in your heart there are still lingering doubts, feelings of inadequacy, and worry for the world, I pray that you will be able to empty your hands to accept His Gift. His infinite forgiveness is free as much as it frees. Will you let His Love come alive in you?