The NOW of Your Savior’s Birth: I’m finding it difficult to keep track of time - and Christmas is compounding the problem.
Between all the services, the sermons, the decorations, the hymns, the shopping, the candy canes, and the cookies (not to mention TV specials), time is flying past me like a falcon on fire and I simply can’t keep up. I grasp at it, with a hand weak and wanting, but catch only mist.
And Christmas is compounding the problem.
The reason is that Christmas is the one Holiday of the year that categorically refuses to firmly plant its feet in the NOW. It simply won’t do it. You can try and grab Christmas with your mind, try to pull it to your ‘now,’ try to lay it at your feet and sprawl it out on your living room floor…and it won’t cooperate. It will only wink at you and then dance off into the innumerable mists of other whens.
I’m finding it difficult to keep track of time - and Christmas is compounding the problem, for it will never plant its feet firmly on NOW.
And we all know this. When Christmas Eve comes we will all think of the past, of Christmases from our childhood, of family and friends who have long been in Heaven. Christmas will not keep its feet planted on now - it will always conjure up the past. The carols and hymns we sing add to this temporal disorientation. Singing a carol I once sang with my Grandmother rips me back into the past - I lunge in my heart back through the years to her kitchen table on Christmas Day. I grasp at that moment, with a hand weak and wanting, but catch only mist.
Christmas will not stay in the now, it always throws you into the past.
You put a live tree in your living room. You decorate it. You do this thing of a ritual. You know you will do it again. The smell of pine and the sight of a candle flame. It absolutely reeks of timelessness. I don’t know what they were doing in Mexico in December, 1943, but I know they were celebrating Christmas. I don’t know what they were doing in Southern England in 1672, but they knew Christmas. The same goes for Saxony, 1145. And while we’re at it - Lombardy, 750. Keep going back. Farther and farther.
You will find Christmas.
In fact, you’ll find Christmas before it even showed up at all: the Old Testament certainly thinks so. Christmas hadn’t even come yet - and the prophets didn’t care. Always they spoke of the Messiah to come, the one who would appear on earth, the promised Seed and Servant of the Lord who would visit and rescue his captive people. For them, Christmas was not in the now - it was always throwing them into the future.
I’m finding it difficult to keep track of time, and Christmas is compounding the problem.
For Christmas will not stay in the now.
And I think I’ve figured out why that is. I think I know why Christmas is so timeless, why it’s always lurching us forwards and backwards through the thens, whens, and nows of our lives. It’s because of the one who is the true meaning of Christmas - and I’m not talking about some fat guy in a red suit who has a strange obsession with scampering down smoke ventilation shafts holding a bag of whatchamacallits. No, I speak of someone else.
The Son of God. The eternal Word. Through him all things have been made. Without him nothing was made that has been made. He stands at the center of Christmas.
And HE is timeless.
He stands apart from time. He is not bound by it. There is no past, present, or future for him - no, no. He is totally and completely beyond time. Time cannot grasp him. It reaches, with a hand weak and wanting, but catches only mist. He is beyond time.
And yet he came to earth. He was born in time. Christmas is the day when the Son of God - the one beyond time - entered into our world and stepped into time. Today we celebrate when God grasped the NOW of our salvation. For that is what Christmas is, that is what this all means. That is what the babe in Bethlehem says to you: “NOW I step into your world. NOW I begin your salvation. NOW I march towards the cross. NOW I aim myself like an arrow at sin and hell. NOW I claim you as my own. NOW the Sovereign Lord has sent me to save you”
Christmas is timeless, for it is at Christmas that the timeless One stepped into time. It is when our Savior grasped the NOW of our salvation. It is when past, present, and future all became wrapped up into the huge, exultant “NOW!” of God’s promise fulfilled.
The boy in Bethlehem.
It’s Christmas, and I’m finding it hard to keep track of time. But that’s OK. All I need - all you need - is a great, big NOW.
The NOW of your Savior’s birth.
“And now the Sovereign LORD has sent me with his Spirit.” (Isaiah 48:16)
We thank Good Shepherd's pastor, Reverend Joshua Zarling, for this week's blog post.
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