Sunday, March 5, 2017

God Among Us

Some of us miss the most important part of it all. It’s not when or where. It’s who. It is God Among Us.
This past week I heard a beautiful version of “Oh Holy Night” that moved me. I watched later that night as a single flame danced across an auditorium of people like a wildfire. Candles moved gracefully from row to row, lighting the dimly lit sanctuary. One glance around the room revealed hundreds of lights. In that moment, we sang “Silent Night” and I couldn’t help but think of how much we sometimes need a silent night.
I couldn’t get past the fact that the greatest silent night of all birthed the most extraordinary gift to the world. There were no last minute shopping trips, parties to get to, letters to write to Santa or cookies to bake. There was no wrapping paper, tape, packages or bows. There was no hustle and bustle that long ago night, except for a very full town in Bethlehem. No one knew the Savior was coming. No one was even looking for Him. But tucked away in a forgotten stable, God’s first cry as a human baby broke the silence. After years of waiting and wondering, God was not only communicating to mankind, He was living among them.
It was somewhere between the orchestra music in full swing, the stage glistening with decorations and the entire theater seeming to worship with one heartbeat this Christmas season, that I was struck with a stunning thought. Christmas, in its rawest form is the world’s longest lasting birthday celebration. No other birth anywhere has come close. Every melody played over the airwaves, every ornament hanging from tree branches, every gift carefully selected and every nativity across fireplace mantels exists because of two weary travelers, a Divine God and a newborn. Christmas would not exist without Christ, yet somehow He seems to have hard time finding a place at His own party.
Many extraordinary men and woman have come to be both before and after Christ, but their birthdays aren’t celebrated quite the same. Their words and works and lives haven’t lasted throughout generations. They don’t have albums entirely dedicated to the day they were born or a hundred Hallmark movies marking the days till their birth. They don’t have trees especially grown and set aside for them. There is only one name that calls for that kind of decorations and lights and feelings of merriment all through the season year after year.
I wonder then. I wonder if all of Christmas emerged from one single baby, if maybe He wasn’t just a baby. I think He must have been so much more. I think He must be more then we give Him credit for. And I think sometimes we try to keep that baby boxed in a feeding trough and not living among us. God never intended to stay in the box, in the manger we so often keep Him in. He sent His son to show us how to rise out of the stable and into the Father’s arms. He sent Jesus to a world in desperate need. And for some of us, we are too hung up in the stable of yesterday to hear the proclamation that a Savior has been born. Some of us miss the most important part of it all. It’s not when or where. It’s who. It is God Among Us.
Max Lucado, a word smith like no other, described it like this: “It is doubtful that anyone mentioned the couple’s arrival or wondered about the condition of the girl. They were too busy. The day was among them. The day’s bread had to be made. The morning’s chores had to be done. There was too much to do to imagine that the impossible had occurred. God had entered the world as a baby” (Lucado 22).
“Off to one side sit a group of shepherds. They sit…in amazement. Their night watch had been interrupted by an explosion of light from Heaven and a symphony of angels. God goes to those who have time to Hear Him—so on this cloudless night He went to simple shepherds” (22).
“Meanwhile, the city hums. The merchants are unaware God has visited their planet. The innkeeper would never believe he had just sent God into the cold…Those who missed His Majesty’s arrival that night missed it not because of evil acts or malice; no, they missed it because they simply weren’t looking. Little has changed in the last two thousand years, has it” (23-24)?
Don’t miss God this Christmas because you aren’t looking. Take Him down from just sitting on the mantel and place Him in your everything. Look for a silent night, a silent moment and let your heart witness what all those in Bethlehem missed; what so many are still missing today. God goes to those who have time to hear Him. He came for us. This Christmas, let’s not just marvel over the baby that was born; let’s invite Him to come near.
Merry Christmas 2015!
—Only Hope
Lucado, Max. God Came Near. Multnomah Press. 1987.

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