An EPIC Christmas Eve
I took a good friend to lunch yesterday. We ventured into the belly of the beast that is the mall at Christmas time. It was all of the December 23rd Psalm. The wallet is my shepherd. I shall want more and more. Sigh. There was no room in the parking spaces to rest my Toyota sleigh. People were streaming in and out of retail madness. Sarcastically, I’m confident this economic frenzy was exactly what God had in mind when He first brought his one and only Son to earth.
There were so many intriguing dynamics when Mary and Joseph went into sovereignty-induced labor somewhere in the ancient Middle East. This often-romanticized story included a Roman emperor flexing his muscles for control. You can interject a localized governor dreaming and scheming of being the heralded king of the Jewish people. Mary was a teenage girl who grew up extremely fast in a matter of months. Being unwed, pregnant, and a self-proclaimed virgin has a way of getting your story straight in a legalistic, Messiah-crazy culture. Joseph gravitated towards manhood quickly as well. Vivid dreams engulfed by God himself makes adolescent video games incredibly passé.
Wisemen paid careful attention to accurate and incredibly scientific cosmic signs happening overhead (and we think we’re so smart and enlightened). For sake of argument, let’s just assume there were three of these astronomy engineers whose eyes were lifted high. Juxtaposed against these guys, were smelly commoners with eyes kept close to the ground. They were given earthly signs as powerful and prophetic as events in the skies. The shepherds were given the wood, straw, and cloth of a baby’s makeshift manger. This baby king was coming in complete humility not normally attached to royalty.
And there were angels. Most know about the singing of angels somewhere in the middle of a cow patty maternity ward, but why. Why were they singing? When my oldest, Brooklynn, was born, the doctor sang “Happy Birthday as I fumbled cutting the umbilical cord. I whistled when my eight-pound son, Michael, was born. I was speechless when Morgan, my red-headed monster arrived. Lauren, my second born, was screaming notes before I could get my first one out. I guess singing or some kind of joyful noise is appropriate at such blessed events.
But this is God’s story. Not mine. This is the EPIC gospel unfolding. A perfect creation had been compromised by sin and death. God relentlessly has since pursued us to buy us back from the curse of death. God himself had to take on human skin to accomplish this sacrificial task. In order to restore us and all creation, God had to first redeem us. The baby… Jesus… IS redemption. This is the EPIC gospel story. Through his skin, blood, life, and death —the curse of sin and death is defeated. All of the characters, players, and dynamics of the first Christmas are a part of this amazing, huge, EPIC gospel story.
Who are the characters today? What dynamics are unfolding all around us? It seems nothing has changed with power hungry, self-motivated, corrupt politicians. It’s extremely intriguing to note how politicians in the first century and officials today are all put in place by God. They somehow aid in His EPIC story unfolding.
How is God using politics and culture-shaping worldviews to point me more intentionally towards Him? It seems like earthly, cultural signs keep me looking more and more to the skies… anticipating additional cosmic maneuvering connected to the next coming of Christ.
I appreciate more and more the Mary-like faith of people around me who just believe. They tuck away God stories in their heart and move about with great confidence. Like a virgin birth, such faith seems foolish to many… but becomes a source of strength I seek and gravitate towards.
I can easily find myself putting on a pair of Joseph shoes, err… sandals. I’d love a good dream laced with specific instructions from God. Who wouldn’t? That sounds like the more powerful, less-me way of deciding things. Until that dream happens, God tends to grow and instruct me through harder methods. His Word is living and active and directive. I simply have to take responsibility and time to listen.
I wonder if the angels have stopped singing. It has been two thousand years. Such prolonged strain on anyone’s vocal cords can wreak havoc. Unless… maybe they’re gearing up. What if they initially sang boisterously upon the arrival of Jesus because the redemption piece of God’s EPIC story was powerfully being put into place. And now, perhaps, they’re tuning up the ole angelic pipes because the next and final piece of the grand story is about to be written. Restoration. If the angels put on a show for redemption, imagine the opulent encore as heaven, earth, and us is returned to the perfection of complete restoration.
As I run fingers through my unbelievably gray beard, I wonder what complete restoration… perfection… will look like on me. What will living at the optimal age of 27, FOREVER, look like? That’s something worth singing about!
Tonight at our Christmas Eve service, we’re creatively unfolding the EPIC gospel. Dancers, singers, musicians, and actors will unfold creation, fall, redemption, and restoration attached to the Christ child. Michael and I get to creatively explain redemption. Can I really want more for Christmas than my son and I preaching a mini sermon together? How cool is that?
What the angels sang about in Bethlehem is what they’re still singing about, and what will cause our singing and gathering tonight. This story… this baby… this season… really is an EPIC story. I can lose the plot in all of the retail rush. I must choose to find God’s narrative, again, in the giving, dreaming, singing, and faith of others.
I’m glad it’s Christmas Eve. Perspective and thinking and singing and gathering and giving and loving and worshipping are all very good things on this awesome day. I look up and I look around. God’s story is unfolding. That’s why this is a Merry Christmas.