I apologize to you, all the people of the world.
I apologize for my part in making Christmas necessary. I have learned that Christ is NOT the reason for the season, I am. It's true. All the sin and shame I bear for all my wrongdoings have made it a necessity for Christ to come in the form of a man, being born of a virgin. Right from my birth, scarred with a heart that needed cleansing, my very existence meant that a sacrifice would be needed on my behalf.
Not only did Christ need to come to pay for my sins, he had to do it before I would even commit any. He knew how unfaithful and disobedient I would be. He submitted himself to a humble earthly life because I needed him too. I didn't even ask him, but he came anyway because I needed him to come and live for my sake. I needed him to do it all and to do it better than me. I wish that was all there was to it. I wish that he would've just come and lived better than me, perfect, so that I'd have an example to follow. That I could just imitate his ability to Love God and others completely. Because if that was it, the cross wouldn't have been necessary. After countless examples, he could've just been caught up to heaven. No bloody mess dripping from a cross, no complete separation from his Father. Just a good moral teacher telling us to "just do it like this" and you'll be fine.
It wouldn't have been enough, because I sin. Sometimes even when I'm trying not to sin. I needed someone to live that life without sin, so I could grab hold of it and say to the Father, "See this? Christ lived for me! The very righteousness I wear sits with You at Your right hand interceding for me!" I didn't need the example, I needed the very life lead on my behalf. I am the reason Christ emptied himself. I am the reason an angel chose Mary so that Scripture might be fulfilled.
I am the reason he has nails in his hands and feet. I am the reason his skin was torn from his body. I needed this season to happen so that he could live a life I could call my own and die a death I deserved. A death that would have separated me from God for eternity. It might as well be have been me that sold him for some silver or denied him three times. Even still, it might as well have been me that ravaged and killed his followers before I knew Him. I certainly was no fan of him before. Which makes what he did all the more remarkable. He died knowing I would spend a great deal of my life apart from him, living in outward rebellion. Even as a Christian, he'd know my struggles, my sins. He knew I still wouldn't do it right. That's why it's not, saved and never sin. Its saved, repent, sin, repent, sin, repent, STILL SAVED AND NEVER LOST. Salvation has not lost its effectiveness based upon my obedience, but is effective despite it.
I needed Christmas to happen and my sin made it possible for it to be. We cry foul over the "war on Christmas" We fight vehemently over whether we say Christmas or X-Mas, and we think we are good followers of Christ for doing so. We puff our chest out in how we stood our ground for telling people "Jesus is the reason for the season", but he's not.
I am the reason for the season. You are the reason for the season.
Jesus is the RESPONSE to that reason.
He came very specifically to die a brutal, horrendous death to pay for all the somewhats and the "then-somes" of your lives. This cute baby would be unrecognizable at the end, by even his mother, because of the torture before the nails.
Praise God for Christ's response to the reason the season exists.
Praise God for the Good News of Salvation that begins with the celebration of his birth. Remember the baby in his mother's arms is also the man outstretched on the cross.
Let's take our thoughts a little bit deeper this year.
Merry Christmas to all.
A theological misfit landing in the area of Lutheranism, Dominick has come to deeply appreciate the truth of scripture as defined by the distinction between Law and Gospel. He has found freedom in knowing that Christ is his substitute on even his worst days. He has been for the course of his church life everything from chair-stacker to men's ministry leader. He is blessed with a wonderful wife and two great young men, which he can say without a doubt, he doesn't deserve. He counts among his favorite things: Star Trek, classic superhero comics, movies, Yankees and yes, he admits to it, the Knicks. He enjoys a good conversation and good food. Finally, he is grateful for the opportunity to share the message of God's Grace among all these great teachers, pastors and theologians and hopes he doesn't mess up big time. But then again, that's what grace is for, right?