I came across this quote by G.K. Chesterton in blog post I was reading earlier this week.
A mass of legend and literature, which increase and will never end, has repeated and rung the changes on that single paradox:
that the hands that had made the sun and stars were too small to reach the huge heads of the cattle.
Upon this paradox, we might almost say upon this jest, all the literature of our faith is founded...
I mean that all the eyes of wonder and worship which had been turned outwards to the largest thing were no turned inward to the smallest...
It is true that the spiritual spiral henceforward works inwards instead of outwards, and in that sense is centripetal and not centrifugal.
The faith becomes, in more ways than one, a religion of little things.
- G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man
We are about half through Advent and it really is a religion of small or little things. I think Chesterton should have added that it is about difficult things. It's about celebrating the difficult choices. God came down. Mary said yes. Joseph said yes. The shepherds went to find Him. The Wise Men went to find him. It is beauty in the midst of chaos. It's subversive.
There are Christmas lights shaped like a tree around Jochiwon train station. The squalor and dirt are there but so is this tree shape. This defiant shape stands in contrast to its surroundings. It's beautiful in the midst of Jochiwon traffic and the swarms of moving people.
I want to be like that tree. I want to be a light in a dark place. I want to be like Mary and Joseph who said yes to the difficult and miraculous thing put before them.
In a world where people choose self-centered lives, where ugly things happen, where sin seems to spread unchecked, where daily assaults take their toll, we need to be able to point to the defiant beauty of a selfless life. We need seek the kingdom of God first. We need to put others first. In this way, we can proclaim the transcendent truth of something great than ourselves.
We need to do more than just say Merry Christmas...
We need to say Merry Christmas and remember what the words actually mean. We’ve forgotten the weight that those words carry. We are saying we also unite with him in his death, his resurrection, and his call to make disciples.
If we really mean “Merry Christmas,” it will cost us something. It may cost us everything.
But am I really willing to make myself uncomfortable for the sake of the gospel?
I say “Merry Christmas,” yet I turn against Jesus again and again, forgetful and unrepentant, and twisted in my thinking. I lose my focus at Christmas. I spend more time with books than with Scripture. Don’t forgive like I should. Demand my own way. Stomp my feet. Get really bossy with God. Doubt.
Man, have I doubted Him.
Christmas is not a greeting at the store.
Christmas is not a political platform.
Christmas — real Christmas — is not a political party, a certain set of traditions, a tree, a pile of gifts.
It is not a happy little feeling for an hour at the church.
Christmas is all about Jesus. And it’s positively dangerous. in that we are owning the name associated with a holy God and His only Son. This alone should cause me to kneel — or fall flat on my face.
Here’s what Christmas really is:
Christmas is pick up your cross and follow,
and spend yourself on behalf of the hungry,
and act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.
It is The Way of the contrite and broken.
It is not my will, but Thine be done.
It is “blessed are the poor in spirit,”
and a rejoicing in our suffering.
It is salt and light and fruit of the Spirit.
It is "prepare him room!"
It’s a cup and broken bread.
It is the belief that Christ is our only hope, that heaven is our future home, and that we get to do His work right here, today, before we go there, someday.
Christmas is not a word for your greeting card, but a way to wrap your whole life around a cup and a cross.
It’s not an empty promise for prosperity, but investing our very lives in each other because of an empty tomb.
Merry Christmas is happily agreeing to “love your neighbor as yourself” — even when your neighbor looks an awful lot like your enemy, or someone who doesn’t believe the same things you do. Christmas also commands this: “Go and make disciples.”
It is a walk on water, hyssop on the lips, and a belief that Christ is the central figure of the most radical story to hit planet Earth.
Christmas believes that an enemy prowls, but that a King wins – that the battle isn’t over, but the war is already won.
I won’t deny it: Christmas People believe in crazy things. We believe that God’s Son descended from Heaven to Earth, not so we can have a party on December 25. But so He could die a horrific death and carry people’s sins away.
It’s scandalous, isn’t it?
Scripture whispers that scandalous truth that Jesus wants our ragged, rule-breaking hearts, these hearts that have spurned Him. There’s a word for it: grace. These are the foolish ways of the Christmas People. And so, then, I shall be a fool among them.
Today, I say to you with all the boldness I can muster: “Merry Christmas.”
And when those words cross my lips, I don’t even know the half of it.
I don’t really know how much it cost my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Someday, I will.
Until then, I’ll say it to you, and I’ll say it out loud for the sake of the gospel:
The Light of the World stepped down into our darkness.
And that changed everything.