“When the angels had gone away . .” Luke 2:15 NKJV
“Christmas is not about listening to angels’ songs; Christmas is about knowing the Savior!”
My thoughts today are about “mystery and majesty.”
Christmas is just two weeks away, ready or not! I love the Christmas season and celebrations. I love the joyous sound of the carols and the beauty and color of the season’s decorations. I love the wonder of little children at Christmas and their barely contained excitement waiting for Christmas morning. I love the joy on faces as presents are unwrapped, and hearing “Wow!” and “I can’t believe it!” and “Just what I wanted!” spill out with hugs. I love singing “Joy to the World, the Lord is come . .” to begin the church’s Christmas celebrations. I love Christmas Eve Communions and Christmas dinners with family and friends. I love Christmas!
Most of all, I love the mystery and wonder of Christmas, a story so impossible who but God could have conceived it. Last year, I saw a promotion for a TV program that was advertised as “the impossible true story.” I doubt that it was, but those words would accurately describe Christmas and the wonder and awe this magical season can bring – a worried king jealous of his throne, wondering shepherds rushing from their fields and flocks, wandering kings with gifts from far countries, and a worshipping young couple coping with the angels’ startling appearances and pronouncements. How could this be? No wonder Mary “pondered all these things in her heart” and all who heard the shepherds story “wondered at their words.”
In the era of Google with immeasurable terabytes of information at your fingertips, not much remains a mystery anymore but Christmas is and always will be. Paul ponders the mystery as he wrote to young Timothy, “Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith: Christ appeared in the flesh . . was seen by angels and was announced to the nations.” 1 Timothy 3:16 NLT. This “great mystery” is: to where would the Savior come – not to a capital city or palace, but to a common stable in obscure Bethlehem; and in how would the Savior come – not as a powerful conqueror, but as a helpless infant miraculously born with our shared humanity; and for whom would the Savior come – not for the religious, but for the worst and best among us, sinners all.
And how did this grand introduction to your world occur? “There were shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock. And an angel of the Lord stood before them . . ‘do not be afraid; I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you today a Savior, who is Christ the Lord’ . . and suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly Host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.’”
The shepherds could have returned to their routines and responsibilities and spent their lifetimes just retelling the stories about the angels; instead, they became eyewitnesses of the Savior. “When the angels had gone away from them into Heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us now go and see this . . which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby lying in a manger.” Read Luke 2:8-20 NKJV. Inevitably, angels will leave; Christmas will pass; but the Savior can change your life forever! That’s when the mystery in your mind of His birth becomes the unequalled majesty of His life and purpose in your heart.
All too soon, the angels will go away and routines return. When the angels leave, will you stay as you were, or will you seek a life-changing encounter with the Savior? Christmas is not about listening to the angels’ songs; Christmas is about your heart wanting to know the Savior! You have not experienced Christmas until you have personally found the One “born to you this day a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” This Christmas, you can be an “eyewitness of His majesty . . until the Morning Star rises in your heart.” 2 Peter 1:16-19 NKJV.
My prayer for you today is that you never substitute celebration for the enduring wonder of the Savior.