For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. Isaiah 9:6-7
Because December is the month when the curtains close on the stage of a given year, it’s a time when people tend to look back and take stock of how that year’s story played out. It would be great if our reflex action was to jump to our feet and give the past twelve months a standing ovation. But our lives—even when we try to live them in step with God—don’t always incite curtain calls, do they? Our story of this last year may be weighted down with medical issues, financial setbacks, relational heartbreaks, and regrets.
That’s why we all need Christmas so badly.
Christmas … this age-old event that never seems to grow old. No matter who you are or where you’re coming from, it’s pretty much impossible to slip through December without feeling its breath on your neck. It takes over front yards, display windows, family rooms, and radio stations. It becomes an adjective long enough to define things like bonuses, parties, and presents. Airline carriers give it a group hug. Retailers kiss it dead square on the lips.
But in spite of all of its commercial clutter, we still need it. And no wonder. The Bethlehem story involves a counterintuitive plotline and cast of characters that only a loving God could have come up with. Off-ramp towns don’t stage celestial events. Virgins don’t have babies. Kings aren’t born in barns. Royals don’t sleep in feed troughs. Minimum wage shepherds aren’t guests of honor. But sure enough, there they were … and as a result, here we are. The baby in that center-stage manger became the Savior on that center-stage cross. He didn’t come here to live. He came here to die … so that you and I could live. We need this story of God’s grace to slip in among us every December to remind us again of just how much we’re loved.
December may close the curtain on a year, but Christmas reminds us of an ongoing story that will never stop being told—History. It’s a hope story, a rescue story, a grace story, and a victory story. Ultimately, it’s a love story that started in a back-alley stable in Bethlehem that God wants to live out through the drama that makes up our lives. It’s the guarantee that regardless of how amateur our performance, the Star of the story will never fail to gain the applause of heaven.