In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.John 1:1,14
It was the moment that all of Creation had been racing toward since our Creator first spoke light into the darkness and began to bring order to the chaos of the universe. From the very beginning, the mission of the Creator was to illuminate the darkness and form creation by His miraculous design for the purpose of bringing glory to Himself. the pinnacle of His work was the formation of a special creature, into which He breathed a portion of His own essence to bring to life that which would be put in charge of caring for His wondrous masterpiece.
He gave mankind the responsibility for caring for the world and for all that was in it, and provided only one prohibition so that man would have a choice to demonstrate his loyalty or his betrayal. And the man and woman chose the pursuit of their own wisdom over loyalty to their Creator, thus corrupting the created order and plunging the world into darkness once more.
For thousands of years, man continued to endeavor to elevate himself rather than seek God in the midst of the darkness. The problem with darkness is that it makes the way difficult to see and consequently we stumble through the pursuit, often traveling the wrong path to the wrong destination in pursuit of our own glory and our own desires. The pursuit of own glory and light ironically intensifies the darkness as we move further and further away from the light of His glory.
Time and again, the Creator coaxed the creature that He created in His own image with the capacity to create and rule and multiply His blessings. Time and again, mankind chose to reject Him in favor of “gods” fashioned in our own image. Gods of wood, silver, and gold. Gods designed to reflect our own “glory”, fashioned in our own image using our own feeble imaginations. Gods not created, but fashioned out of that which was already created by another greater than our own limited capacity to imagine. We’ve even fashioned gods in our mind and re-envisioned God as our own creation instead of as He revealed Himself to be.
Over the centuries God pursued His creature seeking to draw Him back into relationship with Him. And from time to brief time, we would revive our loyalty, but the darkness would inevitably reclaim its prize until the silence of God allowed the darkness to overshadow the world. For 400 years, the Creator fell silent. And His silence was deafening as His words were twisted into idolatrous manipulations, used to further advance the glory of man over the glory of the only One deserving of glory. Yet even in the midst of His silence, His grace and mercy lie in wait to be revealed in His perfect time.
As suddenly as His voice fell silent, He spoke again into the darkness of the world as He revealed Himself to a teenaged girl, betrothed to a Godly man in ancient Palestine. As He spoke into the darkness of the world, His light again began to shine through a star visible to the entire world, yet understood only by the wise from afar. As He spoke into the darkness, He shattered the silence with the voice of the singing of angels heralding the coming of a new King that would be the Savior of the world. As He spoke into the darkness, He stepped into the darkness and took on flesh in order to live and breath and walk among us and show us the life we were always intended to live.
As He spoke into the darkness, He cried as a baby in a simple manger. A cry of pain. A cry of joy. A cry of sorrow. A cry of life everlasting. A cry that would echo through the ages past, and the ages to come. A cry that would ultimately culminate in the cry of “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.” as He willingly gave His life for the Creation that had wandered in the darkness for far too long. But the story doesn’t end with the darkness of the cross of Calvary or the darkness of the borrowed tomb.
Three days later, the darkness was once again pierced by the light of resurrection. A light that would never be dimmed. A light that would forever shine in the hearts of His children. A light that would show the way of truth to all who would believe. A light that could never be extinguished, though many have tried over the last 2000 years, with increasing fervor.
The story of Christmas is very simply this – our Creator chose to pierce the darkness with His own presence as Emmanuel – God with us. The story of Christmas is that He took on flesh in order that He might live and die, so that we might truly live. That we might see Him in the darkness of the world around us. The story of Christmas is not in the giving of gifts or the pursuit of our own glorious attentions. The story of Christmas is in the gift of God’s own presence.