The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. Isaiah 9:2
December serves as the sunset month of another year; the dusk before the dawn of a fresh calendar. It’s always been ironic to me that our sovereign God chose to have the world remember His Incarnation at this hinge in time between calendar years. And rightfully so.
That’s because December also plays a huge factor in the sum total below the line of our annual human math problem. When circumstances want to dictate whether we carry a plus or minus conclusion over into the New Year, Christmas squeezes its way just above that summary line with its “all things have become new” power to overwrite whatever bottom line life was trying to impose on us.
It’s easy to think that the application of all this divine intervention was to enable us to take the love we now have for God and use it to fuel our love for the people closest to us—like our family and friends. But that would be missing the point of Christmas by light years. Our love for God is still “our” love; limited, conditional, and destined to fall short when times get tough enough. The story of Christmas is not that we bring our love for God to the forefront or our relationships, but that we bring His love for us to that center-stage.
God’s love never ceases, never fails, never wearies, and never gives up. This distinction is at the core of the gospel. The truth-framed/grace-filled message of Bethlehem is the transforming impact of Jesus dying for us in order to ultimately love through us.
I don’t know how your year has been. And none of us control what next year is going to serve up. But Christmas guarantees us that no matter what, we have hope beyond hope. And with that hope, we get to enjoy the peace that passes all understanding living within us. That’s our promise as we celebrate this comma called Christmas between where we’ve been and where we’re going. It’s our annual reminder from God of His mercy, forgiveness, and grace as we pick up the rhythm of a new year.