It’s less than two weeks before Christmas and I’m at where I’m usually at - nowhere on my mile-long to-do list. So, I do what every brave and slightly deranged woman does - venture to a mall packed with the hustle of Sunday evening shoppers.
I brace myself for the Battle for Elbow Room. I ready myself for the Carnage of Competitive Shopping, a.k.a. Sales. I enter the fray of frenzy – this is going to make the Roman Colosseum look like a children’s playground.
But, as I step out of the elevator into the arena I am dumbstruck. Standing tall in the throng of humanity was Rio de Janeiro’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue.
Nope, I wasn’t dehydrated and hallucinating. It was much smaller than the almost-100-foot-tall original. But it was still pretty impressive: here was Jesus with his arms stretched out over the chaos of Garuda Mall, Bangalore. Yeah, I went, “Whaaa?!” too. (I later discovered that the mall was displaying replicas of global landmarks on every floor.)
It was Christmas time. I expected a few cheap gold bells and red ribbons gracing the mall. Maybe even a Christmas tree for the seasonal selfie opportunity. But Christ the Redeemer? That was not Christmasy!
Or, wait . . . just maybe it is.
Yes, at Christmas we celebrate the Christ child. We sing “Away in a Manger” about the baby who didn’t cry (though, I’m sure many moms would like to have that one verified by Mary). We display porcelain Nativity sets which are picture perfect (at least till the shepherd’s staff breaks off or the donkey loses his ears). My family has a little Christmas tradition where on Christmas morning we sing, “Happy Birthday, dear Jesus.” My kids love it – it’s another excuse for cake, and I attempt to keep the focus on Christ rather than the presents under the tree. (A mom can try!)
But that’s only a part of the story -- a very small part. If our focus is entirely on Christ’s birth, we miss the purpose for which He came. Jesus doesn’t just want our adoration, He yearns for our salvation. He came to redeem us from our empty way of life.
I’m probably starting to sound like the perfect combination of Scrooge and the Grinch who stole Christmas. But, believe me, I’m not advocating a solemn Christmas. I’m pretty sure God invented the very concept of fun. But, the thing is, without the whole story we miss out on the whole joy.
Christmas is the love story of a God who broke into the darkness of this world. It’s the story of a God who would humble himself and give up His majesty for a manger. But it didn’t end there. It’s the scandalous story of a God who chose to die for us. It’s the victorious story of a God who rose again and completely destroyed sin and death. It’s the story of rescue and redemption and reconciliation of people who were once without hope.
This Advent, as we wait for the coming of the Christ child, let’s include the full story. Let’s embrace the Hope, Love, Joy and Peace that Christ Our Redeemer brings.
Father God, This Christmas, help us stop and ponder Grace unfathomable. Help us to be still and remember Love unstoppable. We welcome You, Lord Jesus.