Sometimes the greatest gift one can receive--in an early Advent Christmas present--is the realization that Christmas season should be 12 months long!
But what do we mean by Christmas?
"When the LORD washes away the filth of the daughters of Zion, And purges Jerusalem’s blood from her midst…For over all, the LORD’s glory will be shelter and protection: shade from the parching heat of day, refuge and cover from storm and rain." Isaiah 4:2-6
The greatest gift one can receive this Christmas season is the gift of true humility. True humility, quite simply, starts with a healthy Biblical fear of God. God, meaning: Almighty, Transcendent, Unfathomable, and Mysterious…yet, Immanent, Revealed, Merciful and Incarnate. Fear 'of,' referring to: our utter desperate need for a Savior, and God's Saving Action (in the Cross of His Only Beloved Son) when we least deserved it.
Christmas 'images' the cute, chubby, baby Jesus in the arms of Mary, next to the bewildered, yet faithful, Joseph, bathed in the miraculous Light, in the witness of animals, shepherds, and magi…as it should! But Christmas should also have the faint, but necessary, image of the Cross. Christmas is the arrival of, not only our Savior, but also, our Purger and our Sustainer.
For Baby Jesus points not only to heaven, but to the necessary Cross-carrying Way, which must come prior.
"Because of my relatives and friends I will say, “Peace be within you!" Because of the house of the LORD, our God, I will pray for your good." Psalm 122:1-9
Christmas is more than toys around a tree. Christmas is the Eucharist under the Savior, nailed to the tree. Christmas is more than sweet Christmas cards. It is the most difficult Commandment exercised in wholehearted discipleship: love of neighbor, as oneself. For Christmas, like the Eucharist, is prefaced by the kiss (or sign) of peace. Christmas season is 'Immanuel, God among us.' Yet, if God is among us, mustn't we rejoice and receive Him, and become all He desires for us? Mustn't we take his message seriously?
Therefore, Santa, the snow man, and super holiday savings, must bow to the Suffering Servant, the Lamb of God, and 'the Way, the Truth, and the Life.'
"Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed." Matthew 8:5-11
Christmas, therefore, in a true sense, is the perennial season of the humbled Christian disciple. Christmas, moreover, is both Paschal (Easter) and Eucharistic to the core. For the baby points to the bathwater of baptism in the Cross. And the baptism in/of the Cross reveals the fear of God, the humility of the disciple, and the love of our neighbor as the greatest gifts ever received.
Happy Advent, Day 2!
Notes to one of Jesus' elves: firstname.lastname@example.org