As much as I love Christmas...carols...parades...good eats...decorations...parties...gifts...I wonder what it would be like for one year to skip all of the "stuff" and just focus on the One whose birth we celebrate during this time. Sometimes, despite my best intentions, it is hard to see the baby in a manger past the big, flashing "Toys - 40% Off!" sign.
We rode around a few nights ago, sipping on milkshakes and looking at Christmas lights. Among the "Oooo's" and "Ahhh's" of the beautiful displays, we saw a cross beaming brightly in one yard. Some might wonder "Why the cross...what does that have to do with Christmas?"
It has everything to do with Christmas. Look beyond the twinkling lights and see Jesus. Christ-mas. The baby born of a virgin. Emanuel. God with us.
As sweet as the scene is with the baby all wrapped in a manger, how thankful I am that the story did not end there. Even as this tiny baby nursed at Mary's breast, the plan was already set into motion. He was born to die on a cross...to save us...from ourselves...to rescue us from a life separated from God because of our sin.
The baby in a manger was a miracle indeed. But the cross is the greatest miracle. To think that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords would be willing to leave Heaven and come to Earth...to be killed as a sacrifice...for us...for me. The ultimate sacrifice that would forever offer hope to the hopeless. His blood that dripped from that cross so long ago bought my freedom.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that everyone who believes in Him will not die, but will have eternal life. (John 3:16)
That is real love.
That is the real Christmas.