1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” — John 1:1–4 (ESV)
14 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 1:14 (ESV)
Imagine for a moment that you had never heard of or experienced Christmas.
No candlelight services.
Now try to imagine what it would be like to experience your first Christmas season, with all of its traditions and treasures. Imagine seeing families bringing trees into their homes and decorating them with lights and ornaments. Imagine going out to get groceries at night and seeing houses decorated with lights. Imagine your first encounter with holiday traffic and stores full of eager shoppers. Imagine what it would be like to experience your first gift-exchange.
At some point, you would wonder, “What’s the reason for all of this?” If you happened to ask a Christian, they would tell you that Christmas is all about the birth of Jesus. Your next question would probably be something along the line of, “Who is Jesus?” After all, what child’s birth could possibly justify such extravagant festivity? Nobody’s birth is celebrated like this. Now consider the unique circumstances and events surrounding the birth of Jesus in the Bible.
Prophets promise him.
Angels announce him.
Shepherds visit him.
Magi travel to adore him.
Kings want to kill him.
In 1865, William Chatterton Dix wrote, “What Child Is This.” The Christmas carol acknowledges the unique circumstances and events surrounding the birth of Jesus and proclaims the wonderous identity of the Christmas child.
“What Child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
This, this is Christ, the King!
The silent Word is pleading.
The King of kings salvation brings;
What child is this? What is all of this about? Whom is all of this festivity for? This is Christ the King! This is David’s promised son, the true King (2 Samuel 7:12-13). This is God the Word, made flesh, to speak a better word than the blood of Abel (Hebrews 12:24). This is the Savior of the world who has come to deliver us from sin and death (Matthew 1:21).
This is Jesus!
This is Christmas!
So as we enter this season of Advent, let us consider and heed the exhortation of the carol “Let loving hearts enthrone Him.” In every sacred moment of this special season, may we seek to enthrone Jesus in our hearts, for He is Christ the King!
Like a downpour after a thirsty drought, Advent festivities are here.
Most High God, your radiant excellence is declared everywhere we look.
The cheerful, twinkling, glowiness of December; a song to you.
Reverently, we celebrate your coming:
The Lord, made flesh.
A promise fulfilled, here to conquer death itself.
What child is this, indeed.
You became lowly to set us free. But we confess, we don’t always live as free men. This year, we’ve bowed down to other kings. We’ve abdicated our identity as your people. We’ve chosen convenience over conscience.
Forgive us, oh Lord.
We plead: Instill in us an unshakable boldness
to proclaim your Lordship;
Both in word and deed,
Both in Advent and in the ordinary.
Let us celebrate so merrily, so generously,
so warmly, so joyfully,
that our neighbors take notice, ask questions,
and want a slice of it.
Permeate our dwellings with your sweet aroma;
let it be so fragrant that our children grow
to know it as the smell of home.
In a world where kings still rage against you and darkness threatens to dampen our delight, sustain our courage. When the world scoffs, may the Church fall on her knees.
Oh Lord, full of grace and truth, through whom all things were made, we commit this Advent season to you. By grace, let us valiantly honor you as the King you are. Oh, that we may see this Christmas with fresh eyes, as if it were our first.
May our humble awe reflect how lavishly you’ve loved us.
Joy, joy, for Christ is born, the babe, the Son of Mary!