Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Since Christmas Day will hardly afford much time for blogging, I'm giving you all my Christmas blog today. Hopefully you won't mind it being two days early.

It seems that a lot of people go through a phase (a phase sometimes lasting most of their life) where they are very jaded with Christmas. The sound, the light, and the stress become nothing but noise that seems far too loud and too annoying. And of course there is the endless complaint that Christmas has become too commercialized (which is a very valid complaint). More importantly, I've observed countless people who dread Christmas simply because it means being trapped with family for typically several days. Unfortunately those who we should love most (purely through closeness of proximity and the amount of opportunities we have to love) are often the ones who hurt us the most, and who we in turn are least loving towards. Christmas becomes nothing more than a day where all the stress, all the tension, and all the frustration of family life are thrown together in a relentless march of "festivity."

In Christian circles, we constantly talk about Jesus being a gift, about the purpose of Christmas being to celebrate His birth, and so on. But it's hard to find the "so what?" in that. What does this mean for us? What does the birth of a Jewish baby two thousand years ago mean to someone who's struggling with family and finances and stress today? Last Christmas was the first one that an idea really hit me: the concept behind Christmas is the concept of rescue. It's about a gift, yes, but that's too abstract. I want to dig deeper than this. The birth of Jesus was the act of God reaching down and touching the face of the earth in a tangible, physical way, a way that would result in redemption. And Jesus was no ordinary rescuer. He entered the darkness of our world without aid, without fanfare, without news networks and the internet to herald His daring deed. He stepped into a place of danger and pain as an infant, small, vulnerable, dependent on human parents He had created in the first place.

I've heard the analogy before that this would be like a human becoming a cockroach in order to save all the other cockroaches. Considering my loathing of cockroaches, this is a rather stirring analogy for me. But if we are to look at it more seriously, what God did is even more bizarre. He created us, and then watched humanity tear itself apart. He watched us hate, kill, murder, destroy, curse His name, and then wallow in the misery of our own emptiness. And in middle of all that, Jesus joined us. He left perfect light to walk in a world so greatly and terribly broken.

This is the greatest rescue story of all time, because Jesus didn't just enter the darkness. He defeated it, and in doing so left us the promise of redemption, the promise that our broken homes and broken hearts and broken souls could be made new. Christmas is the beginning of Easter. Christmas is the start of the rescue, the first lines on the page of the greatest love letter ever written.

Maybe this is why I'm so obsessed with Christmas lights: it's the idea of lights growing in the darkness, of something bright where there would normally be bareness and emptiness. And that is Christmas.

So what?

If we are rescued, then Christmas should come with a spirit of thankfulness and joy. It should come with a realization that we are more loved than we could imagine, that we are broken beings who find redemption in our Jesus. It should come with a question about what we believe about living and why we believe it.

And beyond that, there's an application that I've become more and more aware of this Christmas. If we are to look on Christ as the perfect example, then maybe we are meant to be rescuers as well. I'll admit to having borrowed that idea-- it comes from the quote that could basically be called my personal life mission statement.

We are only asked to love, to offer hope to the many hopeless. We don't get to choose all the endings, but we are asked to play the rescuers. We won't solve all mysteries and our hearts will certainly break in such a vulnerable life, but it is the best way. We were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we're called home.
- Jamie Tworkowski

That suggests something a little frightening. It suggests that Christmas should remind us to act as rescuers. And that means that instead of accepting the frustrating aspects of Christmas and trying to distance ourselves from the stressful situations, we are to dive into the middle-- to love. Instead of being frustrated with family members, we are to love them, to sacrifice for them, to give not just physical gifts, but to give of ourselves. It's what God did for us. It's the hope we are called to fight for.

I don't know where this Christmas finds you, or if my thoughts are meaningful to you or if they totally miss the mark. Regardless, I hope that you remember, right now, that you are rescued. And I hope that with time that drives you to strive to be a rescuer.

I am so grateful for all of you, and if you're reading this, I want you to know that there is an incredibly high chance that I've prayed for you over the past few weeks. May the 25th be truly blessed for you and for your family. Let's celebrate being rescued.

God bless!
- Elraen, the Wandering Star-

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Liz said...

rescued. interesting concept.

love the photo.

Phantom-Tree said...

thanks Mary, i really enjoyed this post. its an interesting concept about Christmas and rescue.

love the photo!!!

Lethie said...

This was a beautiful blog. And really discribed me in how i was and how i am now. Ive lived my whole life dreading christmas for reasons that you put, but this year (being my first year having been saved) i found myself not asking for physical gifts but wanting to be around my family and just being in awe of god and his amazing gift. thanks for sharing once again i <3 reading your blogs they are so insightful and thought provoking

Jessica said...

That was beautiful. Thank you. Your writing is incredible and I always hear just what God wants me to. :) -- Angel