How well do you think you know the Christmas story about Jesus? How well do you believe you could capture in one sentence what Christmas is all about? Would you answer with something like, “Jesus is the reason for the season?” There is a lyric from a Clay Crosse song (I believe Clay is a Memphis boy) who sings, “It’s all about man coming to earth, dying on the cross and saving the world.” However, what we should not overlook is that involved in the story about the birth of Jesus is also a key theme about decisions. There are many parts of the birth saga of Jesus where people had to make crucial decisions. Joseph had a dream where he is instructed to not divorce Mary, and when he awakes from the dream, he had a decision to make. Angels announced to Mary that what she had conceived was “from the “Most High” and she was thrust into the first situation of believe it or not. Throw into the mix, Zechariah, a priest, is told by an angel that though he and his wife are well past child-bearing years, they will have a son who will announce the arrival of the Messiah. No way can we forget the Wise Men who had a decision to make whether they would return and tell King Herod that they had found the Messiah or continue back to their homeland. Last of all shepherds in the field had to make a choice, would they travel to Bethlehem because they believed what they heard and saw in the sky that night as they watched over sheep, or would they dismiss it? The Advent (advent means waiting) and Christmas season is not filled with just a miraculous birth story, but also with the theme of deciding, deciding about Jesus, his birth, and what it means.
I don’t think we get off the hook about Christmas being a time of decision for us. Because as some of us are going through grief, some battle with physical and emotional health, some with separation from loved ones and all of us contemplating how the Christmas story can make sense with the daily bad news we hear about around the world, we decide. We may not say anything to anyone, but we decide if Jesus is the Son of God or just something we have accepted as a social norm to celebrate. We decide whether celebrating his birth brings us home to the reality of the love and presence of God that transcends all that we experience in life. This coming Sunday, we’ll consider how the celebration of Jesus presses for a decision from us.
It’s all About Him