My favorite, favorite, FAVORITE time of the year. Since Thanksgiving, I have shown my husband the proper way to begin celebrating this season: I have made him help put up three Christmas trees, listen to countless Christmas songs, and even assist me in tying a Christmas bow–and it’s not even December yet.
There are a lot of reasons I love this season so deeply. It marks family traditions that helped shape me into me. It means there will be warm drinks and soft cookies around every corner. It is an excuse to wear red and green and twinkly lights on our clothes.
The traditions are fun. They bring all kinds of sweet joy surrounding family and friends. They bring people together unlike any other time of the year. Yet the most exciting part about this season is the redemption it represents: the beginning of a 33 year Journey my God took to rescue me from my slavery to sin.
Although I started going through 1 Thessalonians last week, I thought we could take a pause and talk about the Christmas season and what it means for the Bride of Christ. So we are going to go through the average Christiany text: Luke! The words I write will be based on the study my Church is going through right now. To keep up, be sure you scroll down or to the right and click the follow button. You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram!
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“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people…”
Luke 1:68 ESV
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While most skip straight to chapter 2, I would like to take some time and talk about the “before” to the story we all know so well. Luke 1 begins with Zechariah, an elderly Priest who was married to a barren woman. God comes to him and tells him that not only will he and his wife have a child, but that child will be the forerunner to the Messiah.
Now Zechariah gets real confused. First of all, how in the world would they have a child seeing as they were past the age of child bearing? Second… the Messiah? It had been four hundred years since a prophet had uttered a word of His coming, and now someone showed up to Zechariah. Why Him?
But sure enough, his wife Elizabeth soon became pregnant with John the Baptist. The Angel Gabriel had come to deliver him the news of God’s coming to this earth. Because of all the doubts Zechariah, held, however, God put him into a period of silence where he could not speak and likely could not hear according to verse 62. He lived in silence through his wife’s pregnancy, birth, and even the first eight days of his son’s life. When the Lord brought back his ability to speak at John’s circumcision, he began with the words you read above: Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people.
Friends, just as those were the first words uttered by Zechariah in preparation for the coming of the Messiah, we must utter those words as we prepare for the Christmas season. We have got to be continuously preparing our hearts for not only the celebration that He came, but His coming again as well. Our lives need to be based on that statement. Our hearts need to be set on worship to our God for coming off his throne to redeem us as His children. So let’s remember the sweet reminders he sets for us through this season
This season reminds us…
We can leave our doubts behind.
Zechariah, although a devoted follower of Yahweh, doubted what Gabriel told him. I would be lying to you if I said I do not do the same. It is so easy to know that God is in control but still question how He controls. The Israelites spent four-hundred years living in those questions. They heard nothing from their God, but many remained faithful regardless. And guess what?
He came and lived a lowly life where he was rejected and spat upon. He fulfilled exactly what He promised. He took their doubts and said, I know you do not understand my timing or my ways, but I will fulfill everything I have promised perfectly. He did just that, and He continues to do the same today.
We have been made completely new.
The word “redeemed” is beautiful. It does not mean to get out of trouble temporarily. It means to release completely. It means anything that enslaved us can be removed by the pouring out of His precious blood in exchange for the punishment we deserve. If we will simply call on that blood and accept Him as our God, He permanently washes away the sin that covers us and repairs the brokenness that holds us tight. He turns us into the child that The Father originally intended even though we still stumble. He sanctifies us, calling us into His perfect presence and allowing us to reside there forever.
We have a God willing to do anything to bring us home.
He visited his people. That statement in Luke 1:68 sounds almost nonchalant when you gloss over it without much thought. But we must remember that His coming was not a walk in the park.
I heard a story of a father and son who were living in Syria before everything got so bad. The Father was a wealthy doctor and had his son’s life laid out completely before him. Yet the son was not satisfied. He left home, and no sooner than he did so, terror groups began overtaking their area. The father waited, watched, hoped, but there was no word from his son. Knowing full well that all he had would be taken by the terror group and that He would not likely survive the journey, he set out to save his son. He gave up himself that his son might have life.
This example is futile–all examples are futile because they are experienced by imperfect bodies on this earth–but it is beautiful. It is the story of a Father who knew the dangers and chose His child anyway. Jesus knew he was walking into pain when he stepped on the earth. He knew He would not only bear the physical burden of our sin, but He would be robed with the guilt and shame of eternal separation from the Father. He did it anyway. All for the possibility that His children would love Him in return.
He does not need us, but He wants us deeply.
The most important thing we must dwell on in this season remains: Our God does not need us, but He wants us so deeply that he endured the torment I just described. For our King, His coming to this earth marked the beginning of 33 years filled with sorrow and pain. It started laid in a manger–the trough animals fed from–surrounded by cold, dark cave walls. It continued with mocking, no permanent home, and rejection from those He loved so. It allowed him to endure a bloody cross and watching His best friends deny Him completely. It was a season of pain for him. Yet He endured it because He knew it was the beginning of a forever season of love and joy for us.
He was born that our sin may die. He died so that our intended lives may be lived. He did not have to come, but he chose to.
So let us be joyful!
Let us celebrate with vigor.
Let us love on one another and sing and dance and worship and wear ugly Christmas sweaters and put too much peppermint cream in our coffee because we have a reason to celebrate! Because our hope is not in this world. Our hope is in a King that lived a hard, hard life so we may live a life that reflects Him. A life of joy. A life of Hope. A life turned toward Him.