This is the day when we consider the magnitude of love which this world received the very first Christmas – and really has ever since that day. Love hasn’t stopped. Love hasn’t slowed down. Love continues to pursue us and change us and ignite us. Love did come to us at Christmas and continues to reside in us today. This should be a warm and comforting, even reassuring thought as we muddle through in times which are so uncertain. What is always certain and guaranteed is God’s love. What is always given is an amazing, life changing, overwhelming love that transforms us from the inside out. This world does not and cannot change this fact.
But love is also disturbing. Love does transform and renew. Love does give us new life. Love does change everything. Change is hard, though. And love can disturb what we have always known. It can upset our status quo we hold onto with white knuckle fists, clinging to our ways with everything we have. Love does change us, but sometimes that change is difficult and disturbing.
We listen to Christmas carols and get excited about the holidays – and we should. We celebrate the joy that is unexplainable. We feel the hope that wells up in us as we look forward to Christmas. This is all good. But let us not forget the first Christmas wasn’t all joy and excitement. Lives were turning upside down – some welcomed it, some were completely fighting it. It was a Christmas to remember, for sure.
2 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
It is a story we remember, we tell, we celebrate. Let us not forget the lives being changed, though. Don’t miss the worlds being transformed moment by moment. Mary and Joseph have a new baby that God has sent to them. They have to raise God’s baby. Think about it – they are responsible for loving and caring for Love himself. They are cleaning and feeding, protecting and raising God’s own child. That had to be some pressure. Elizabeth and Zechariah are raising a new child who will help others know who God’s baby really is. They are older and more wise, faithful and trusting. Yet, their child will be quite unique, the talk of the town even. Shepherds leave their jobs behind in search of the Messiah – God sent the ultimate birth announcement of his child to shepherds! That speaks volumes in itself about how God works. Their world had forever changed. Magi would later show up to pay homage to this new king. But the leadership was not happy and was triggered by these men searching for a new king. The current king felt threatened. The religious people weren’t ready to welcome him. Babies would die in an effort to find this one and stop him. There would be fleeing and hiding and relocating – all to save this baby, God’s baby. Lives certainly were changed and love disturbed the norm. There was Simeon and Anna who had been waiting their whole lives to see and experience this new baby – destined to live and die for this whole world. Some welcomed love, some shut it out with all the power they could muster.
Love came to earth and when he did, he taught what love really does look like. And it didn’t fit the mold anyone wanted to put him in. He changed the landscape of love. He disturbed the status quo and changed the landscape of the faithful. Love came to earth and flipped everything around. He opened doors for those who had been locked out. He sought out those who had been abandoned on the streets. He lifted up those who had fallen so hard they thought they would never rise again. Love changed everything – and sometimes love is disturbing.
But love is always good. When we allow God to transform and change us, love seeps into our heart and creates a new life. Love begins to flow through our blood stream and enables us to live like never before. Love opens our eyes to the things we always miss. It guides us to welcome those who have always felt unwelcomed. It opens our hands to give, not seeking to receive. Love disturbs – but oh how good love is, because oh how good God is.
His name is Jesus, Immanuel, God with us. His name is love. He is the ultimate transformer. He is the great redeemer. He is more than we could ever comprehend. Yet, he came as one of us to show us how to live and how to love. He came because we are loved that much. His name is Jesus. He is with us. He is still changing us. He is still transforming lives and opening doors. He is still seeking and calling us. We still are being given the choice to allow love to change us or to avoid it. Our actions reflect our decisions. Will you live in love as love transforms you this Christmas? May we live in love…may it be so in God.