I smile as I remember being sent to Home Depot to pick up our first Christmas tree as a married couple. I ended up running into another family from our church and made plans to go on a double date the following Christmastime. 2010 came around and the four of us gathered in the parking lot of Home Depot and helped each other choose trees. All these years later, without anyone going out of their way to plan it, we have kept up this Christmas tree tradition. Each year adds to the significance and fondness that we have intentionally embraced as a family. This year, we invited a third family, ate brunch, and purchased our trees from an organization that helps at-risk youth. We then shared pictures of our finished trees with each other and celebrated the inauguration of Christmas in our homes. It’s a thing.
I have found that this season is one of those that happens to us whether we want it to or not. However, the choice we are presented with is whether or not we are intentional about embracing the holiday for all that it represents. Whatever our history is with it, it is good to know and acknowledge something about Christmas:
Christmas is the declaration that God intentionally moved into relationship with us.
I love how Eugene Peterson captured this when he wrote, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” (John 1:14 MSG)
In so many ways, this verse captures the very center of God’s heart toward humanity as retold in the Scriptures. In Genesis, God is presented as Creator. He created the cosmos and the earth. He created the natural order of animal kingdoms. He created mankind.
The remaining books of the Pentateuch present God as the One who longs to dwell with His people. The rest of the Old(er) Testament retells God fighting for His relationship with them.
John 1:14 is the culmination of God’s intention. He decides to move into the human neighborhood.
Christmas is about Jesus, yes. But it is ultimately about God fulfilling His intention to have relationship with humanity. To God, Christmas is about this single intention.
God is pursuing a relationship with humanity
We know Christmas can easily become consumed with so many details, events, lists, and pursuits, but at the end of the day, the question we have to ask—perhaps the most important one—is are we relating with God this Christmas season?