The Choice of Christmas
Did you know Christmas is about choices?
No, I don't mean "What will I get Uncle Gary and Aunt Melody?" kind of choices. Or, even the "How much do we spend on the kids?" kind of choices. Not the "Did I wear this dress at last year's Christmas party?" or the "Group Gifting vs. Personal Gifting" kinds of choices, either.
I'm talking about the choices that led to the event we celebrate during the Christmas season.
Once Upon a Time in a Far Away Land...
Once upon a time in a far, far, really far away land God decided to create something. Why He chose when He chose to do this miraculous thing, we don't know. Maybe He was all caught up on His reading.... Or, maybe the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were sitting around chatting and one of them said, "What do you think about building a world."
And so, God chose to create the world...and in that world, God chose to create a man. In time, God chose to create a woman from the man (apparently the man was looking a little lost and lonely there and God thought, "I'll create a being who can find her way around any mall...and will be sure to be entertaining, too!).
God created man and woman...and placed them in a beautiful garden home He'd prepared just for them. All He required of them was to keep their little paws off one measly little tree: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Suddenly a slippery, slimy ole snake crawled into the scene and tempted the woman.
"Did God really say you can't eat of any tree in the Garden?" he asked her.*
Eve replied, "Oh, no...we can eat from any tree...just not that tree. If we eat of it, we will die."
The snake said, "Pfffft. You won't die, silly woman. In fact, I have the inside skinny that if you do eat of it, you'll be more like God than before."
Now, the woman had a choice. And she chose to listen to the stinky snake and to disobey God.
The Scriptures say in Genesis 3:6 that Adam was with her, so apparently he chose not to try to stop this travesty. Eve ate and then gave some of the fruit of the tree to her husband and he chose to disobey God as well.
Just Wait Until Your Father Comes Home!
Do you remember your mother saying those words? And you were thinking, "Can't we just keep this between us?"
Do you wonder if Adam and Eve thought the same? "Okay," Adam might have said to hs wife. "I see that you're naked there...and you see that I'm naked here...do you think God will notice that we've noticed?"
God noticed. In the cool of the day, He came down (Oh, the suffering our first parents must have endured!) and pronounced a curse on all three of the story's culprits.
But, in the middle of the discipline, God chose to bless the man and woman as well...by preparing a way by which all mankind could find restoration with Himself.
To the serpent He said, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."
This was the first prophecy of the coming Messiah.
Fast-Forward the Story
Thousands of years went by. The people of God had been "on again, off again" in their walk with El Shaddai, God Almighty. They were now political "prisoners" of the Roman Empire.
The year was about 4 BC.
A young Jewess, probably no more than twelve or thirteen years of age, was engaged to be married to a Jewish carpenter named Joseph. She had chosen a life of being a wife...and, one day, a mother.
According to tradition, one morning as Mary went to the only well in the town of
Nazareth where she lived with her family, an angel came to her and said, "You are the favored one...God is with you."
Now, Mary could have chosen to run (I know I might have...), but instead she began to converse with the angel.
"Don't be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
God had chosen to send His Son in the form of a tiny baby boy, born to a girl and her husband in a town called Bethlehem, where they'd gone for a census taken by the Roman authorities.
What a glorious moment that must have been! Angels singing in the sky, "Glory to God in the Highest and on earth, peace to men on whom His favor rests." **
God's choice to love His children more than we can possibly comprehend had now revealed itself in the form of a child.
A Deeper Choice
Thirty-three years went by. The baby boy had grown to be a man...a teacher...a rabbi. Some called Him a troublemaker. Some called Him the miracle maker. Others called Him the long-awaited Messiah.
It was the time of the Passover. Jews from all over were coming toward Jerusalem. Jesus and His disciples were no different. They'd followed this path for as long as they could remember. The twelve with Jesus were surely exuberant. It would be a good time...a joyous time...a time of remembering.
But, for Jesus, the reflection was different. A new choice was to be made. The choice to lay down His life as a sacrifice...as a bridge by which men could cross over and reach the heart of God.
At times it must have felt as though His feet were weighed down with one of the large, jagged stones along the highway. His heart tightened in His chest. He smiled at those around Him...but at times, it must have been forced.
For days, He purposefully put Himself in the way of those He knew would turn on Him...try Him...convict Him...and, in the end, crucify Him. Day after day of that week He chose to push the envelope a bit harder than the day before.
One night, He chose to kneel in a garden...a garden called Gethsemane. He prayed to His Father...and He waited...waited for the sound of soldier's footsteps and the command of their voices. Waited for the dry touch of a traitor's kiss. The following day, He chose to stretch out His arms as He hung high above His beloved city...and die. Scriptures tell us He could have called an army of angels to come and rescue Him...but He chose to go it alone.
My Choice/Your Choice
The grave could not contain Him! He chose to rise again! He chose to spend more time with His beloved. He chose to send His Holy Spirit to guide us and protect us until that day when the Father chooses that the Son should come again for His bride.
So, now the choice is up to me...and you.
If so, how will you celebrate the season we have set aside to remember His birth? Will you fret and worry over purchase choices? Parties to attend, dresses to wear, suits to press? Or will you choose to tell your children, your grandchildren, your coworkers, your neighbors...anyone who will listen that the choice is theirs as well.
What choices did you make this year, and what purpose did they serve?