Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Wonder of Christmas Love

Nearly every Advent season, I find, with almost incredulous surprise, that there is another layer of wonder, another beam of glory to see in the familiar story of the incarnation. Sometimes there are several lessons of love and beauty to learn in one season. Isn't that why we take more than a day to celebrate?

There was the glimpse I had of Christ's mighty condescension when I lay on the couch, shaking with fever and chills from one of those friendly seasonal flus, feeling as miserable as all get out, and I looked over at the nativity scene on the shelf, nestled under the big, glad banner of "Joy to the world, the Lord has come!" All I could think in my illness was "Why did you come, Jesus?...It is just so bad down here. But you came..." Dirt. Disease. Discomfort. Death. Why did you do it, Jesus? How could you ever bring yourself to come? The answer was a glimpse of love far larger than I have ever felt in my own heart. So in the midst of the misery I saw the depth of his love and adored.

Adoration of the Magi
Then there is the story of the three wise men from the east. The line on a Christmas card - "We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him" has been turning over and over in my mind. Why did they do it? Was there a command, an injunction? Mary and Joseph would never have gone to Bethlehem if Caesar had not issued a decree. They were obligated, so they went, and through it prophecy was fulfilled. But these wise men - they are becoming a wonder to me. They heard news, an almost magical announcement of the birth of a King, and for them, the only reasonable option was to pack their bags and go, onward and onward until they could find and worship Him. It was as if to worship the King sent from Heaven was the consummation of all their life's work and all their heart's desire. We take for granted the story that they went. But they went. Not the twenty minute drive to church, but the twenty month march over the desert. They knew, like we forget, that to worship the Divinity is the highest joy and privilege of human existence.

This season, the lessons I have been learning perhaps reflect my weariness as a mother of little ones, longing for peace and quiet, and for those moments when I needn't be bothered. These are riches to me these days, and so I was able to see in the Christmas story, the sacrifice of these things as beautiful. Love is a willingness to be bothered, perhaps infinitely bothered. Jesus loved us, and so He bothered to come and lay down all comfortable things for us. The wise men loved Jesus, and so they bothered to leave home to behold Him and adore. This love makes Christmas beautiful. This love thrills my heart and calls me to run onward in the path of love with Jesus, who has come to us, to never, ever leave.

Let Thy love, my soul’s chief treasure,
Love’s pure flame within me raise;
And, since words can never measure,
Let my life show forth Thy praise.
~ Francis Scott Key

No comments: