It's not as odd as it sounds...

Prayer happens everywhere, even in the tanning bed.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

May the Merriest of Christmases be YOURS!

Today is the big day... big is so many respects. Big because it's arguably the best Holiday of the year. Big because for some retail chains this holiday puts them in the black after months of seeing red. Big because some families are spending time together for the first time in years. Big because some families are not together for the first time in years. For almost everyone in the world, today is the Big Day.

Except for some it's not. I have to admit that I am a little sad when I walk the dog in my neighborhood and I see the houses with absolutely no decorations announcing their commitment to Christmastime. Those are the houses that belong to the Muslims and Hindu's of our neighborhood. I know that they have their own celebrations that in their country, when the time comes, they get very enthusiastic over but all the celebrating in the world won't hide the fact that they celebrate in vain. Whatever it is they celebrate, whomever it is they celebrate does not promise Eternal Life with the Almighty Creator. It does not celebrate His coming to Earth to be LIKE US... YUCK! Seriously? What Almighty King and Lord and Creator would do that? Why, a King would never stoop so low as to BECOME like his creation, His peasants, His underlings.

When was the last time that thought entered YOUR mind?

Possibly NEVER? It's ok, After all we live in a Representative Republic (hate to break it to you but we really aren't a democracy and really, it's better that way) we have no real understanding, as citizens of a young country but old enough not to have members still alive that remember the origins of our great nation. It's a bit of a shame though because we cannot fully understand what it means to call Christ our Lord and King. There are people all over the world who wake up every morning to face life as citizens of Monarchies and Dictatorships. Some with leadership more benevolent than others. Regardless of how kind and gracious their King or Queen or Despot is they are completely aware of how confined and manipulated their lives are compared to ours. That is why most who live under those political systems want desperately to come live under ours.

In reality, those who become believers in those foreign lands - openly or secretly - have a far better understanding and grasp on who Christ is and what it meant for him to give up

"His divine privileges; He took the humble position as a slave and was born as a human being"

Much of Philippians 2 tells us about exactly WHO this Jesus Christ is. If you are living in a Monarchy or Dictatorship you marvel at what you read about Him. If you are a Monarch or Dictator you shake your head in disgust and assume Jesus is a lie or just insane. Maybe that is why the predominant religions of those types of political systems are not Christianity.

We have seen movies that show us story lines of princes or princesses that reject (in theory) their opulent lifestyle and by chance find someone to take their place in the palace in order that they can "live like the common man". Their reasons are always completely selfish and know that their experiment will end upon the slightest whisper of disappointment or disgust. In the end they learn lessons they need to learn about being humane leaders when their time comes but end up continuing to bask in their riches usually being a bit more gracious to their peasants and leave everyone feeling better about their futures. Awwwww.

But our King and Lord knew exactly what He was getting into when He CHOSE to be obedient to His Father and walk away from an existence He was perfectly happy with. There was no selfishness in His desire to come to earth and give up everything to experience a lifestyle He thought might be more fulfilling. Just typing those words makes me laugh at the idea of it. It's preposterous. I, for one, would NEVER do that, EVER!

That is because I am selfish, self-centered, and self-absorbed. Even when I think I'm not, I am. Even when I'm at my most altruistic I am not so. There is never a time when thoughts about myself, in one way or another, don't enter my mind. Even if at some point I were to be someone who could appear to give up everything for those less fortunate than I... blah, blah, blah. I would still, in the back of my mind be thinking about what a great person I am to do that. But you better believe the moment the whole "crucify Him" thing would rear it's ugly head I'd be calling on my "king daddy" to rescue me from the idiots that live in our Kingdom who obviously don't know a good thing when they see it.

The older I get, the more of life I live, the more time I accumulate in the Word, the more I realize I cannot fathom who Jesus Christ really is. Until the last couple of years MJF and I worked consistently to help our kids understand what really should be focused on this date every year. But until the last couple of years I never really felt the reading of Philippians 2:5-11 might need to be read on one side or the other of the Christmas story we insist upon reading before diving under a tree decorated with lights and baubles and littered underneath with packages wrapped in delightfully colored paper.

Christmas 1994
Now that my kids are older, there wouldn't be much arguing if I added a couple of verses to our Christmas morning scripture reading. I'm just not sure they'd appreciate it any more than they ever truly appreciate the Word of God. What I mean to say is this - they cannot truly appreciate Philippians 2:5-11 because they have no idea what it means to be a king and shed his royalty nor do they understand what it's like to live under the headship of a king/despot who chooses to shed his royalty on behalf of his citizens.

Here we live, in a country, I believe, was ordained and blessed by God, yet we understand less of who He really is and what He really did because of our system of government. Ironic.

So next time you imagine Jesus Christ try to imagine his walking away from all His riches, and power, and strength, and might, and walking into the womb of a poor Jewish girl knowing FULL WELL what was ahead of Him. It's a powerful picture. Makes you wish you could start all over with your kids and put a whole new spin on Christmas, doesn't it?

The reality of WHO that little baby was - who as an infant He knew He was and yet submitted to be - that's a powerful thing to celebrate...

Merry Christmas my friends. Rejoice, the Lord has come! Praise His Holy Name.