The feel good story of baby Jesus.
The traditional Christmas story we know and love, passed down from mouths of loved ones, stories in church and books imprinted with beautiful pictures. Biblical? Embellishment?
Mary traveling on a donkey most likely was a wagon of sorts, the three wise men are not noted as specifically three and could have been “many.” The manger was most likely a cave of sorts and the inn isn’t what we think of as a hotel, more like a home dwelling with an extra room or two. Three kings are always in the story, but they were Magi and arrived to seek out Jesus after His birth, probably a year two later. Then there’s the idea of the star, which really was there, for the shepherds and the magi to follow, as directed by King Herod.
Our Americanized version. The feel good story. It’s fun and traditional.
We enter into the Advent season.
But what is the real meaning of the Christmas story that many know and hear about, without ever placing one foot in the church? Are we putting too much emphasis on baby Jesus or should we automatically go to the cross where He died an excruciating death? If we say we believe, what is our belief founded on? The feel good stories? Or do we know God’s word enough to trust Him?
Advent, which we are in the midst of celebrating, is simply the celebration of His coming. To earth. His sinless life. Human. God. To die. Painful. Agonizing.
I admit. I’m not. I’m too comfy wearing my soft pajamas and hoping to still get the best deal online.
I want to feel the true meaning. Consume me. Not walk nonchalantly by the manger scene everyday, but be awed of the promised gift that lay in the one child.
I have baby fever. The children at our church lined up to practice their songs and I immediately wanted to jump up and hug all the littles, singing loudly, off key and joyfully to their parents.
Would we be overwhelmed?
What if we were to hold the little babe, grasp His fingers and hear the coos ringing from heaven? Our love knows no bounds when our own child is wrapped in our arms. If it were Jesus we snuggled in close and kissed toes and fingers? Would we be overwhelmed? In awe of this precious bundle that held all our hopes and promises?
If I am to live for Jesus, am I all in or is a part of me still searching the web and dreaming of mirrors and loving my pebble lights?
God commands the mess and hears our sobs.
How can I live today, be okay and chat with my neighbor, while others are dying and the tears are shed for a senseless act and a crime that our world cannot agree?
All I can do today is cling to hope. I hope in Jesus. I hope in God who is the king in charge and commands the mess, hears the sobs and understands the burdened hearts. As each one of us is responsible for every action, every word and every thought we carry, we can lay them at God’s feet. He’s the one who takes the awfulness, carries the circumstances we cannot understand and weaves them together to bring about His story. And then His story becomes our own.
Our pastor reminded us of the murder of all Jewish boys two years old and under. All for the sake of killing Jesus. Trying to undo the prophecy told over 400 years prior to His birth. The tapestry was woven together, to include the horror and killing innocent boys.
Do we dare take the chance to see if it’s true? In our lives. In the way we act. In how we treat each other. In our ability to forgive.
Can we step out in faith and take the risk and acknowledge the baby as Jesus? The son of God. God. Man. Perfect. Sinless.
We’ve heard why one shouldn’t believe in Jesus. It’s a fairy tale. It’s a fabrication. It makes us feel good (though I’m not sure how a man dying on the cross is a feel good emotion). It’s a crutch.
We needed the baby and He gave us a Savior.
If we admit it, we want to be saved. We want to be rescued. We want the meaning of life to extend past our savings account and warm, happy dreams. We want the relationships to matter, feel the pulse of our children in our laps and enjoy good food in our full bellies.
But we don’t want it to be Jesus. We don’t want all our hopes to start in the manger and end up at the cross. We are too scared to admit, maybe we’ve been wrong this side of heaven and quite possibly we’ve ignored what really matters.
We look to the good. Our families. Our spouses. Our happy places. Our traditions. Our feel good spaces. If only we can search deep down, far into our soul and finally acknowledge that with all the good, we still haven’t found the peace we so desperately crave.
That is Jesus as a babe. The planned messiah Israel had been waiting and yearning and anticipating. He hung on a cross, the awaited one, still yearning for those crying to crucify Him, that when they wanted to find their happy place, it was all still in the name of Jesus.
Jesus as a baby. Jesus as a man. But a man like no other.
We are in desperate need to be saved. The savior isn’t in religion. He’s not in ritual. He’s not in the pews. He’s not in our duty. He’s not in our deeds.
It is simply in Jesus.
Look beyond the babe in the manger and go to the only who can redeem us and truly set us free.
Read the gospels and see for yourself the story of the babe in the manger. Open yourself to what God wants to show you. Take your doubts. Take your questions. Take your hurts. Take your misgvings. Take your anxieties. Give them to Him and see what He can do.
It all started with a babe in the manger. But the story doesn’t end there.