The Three Meanings of Christmas
The Advent Season is an invitation to reflect on what Christ's birth really means to us personally. Every year I have many conversations with my friends and family about this very topic--what does Christmas mean to us personally? What a big question that is to answer! Every year I get different ideas what it means, mostly based on the things that are going on in my life. This year, I thought I would research the question more deeply--so I dove into other Christian writers' blogs online. I learned a lot. I love that we all have such a diverse and different perspective on Advent. I would like to share with you the three most important things I have learned this season. One blogger, Nadia Bolz Webber, on her blog called Sarcastic Lutheran(http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nadiabolzweber/), talked about the miracle of finding a new identity in God, just as Mary did when she said "yes" to God's plan for her. She talked about our own feelings of unworthiness and how God truly doesn't choose us for His Kingdom because we are worthy, but how we find a new worthiness and identity because He calls us worthy. Here are Nadia's thoughts in her own words: I cannot speak to the worthiness of Mary before that night the angel visited her. But what I know is that she is a truster of God's word. Knowing what little I do about the Bible and how God chooses to operate and who God chooses to operate through, I have to say that I think it was God’s word to her that she was worthy that made her worthy. Her response to the angel was not I will do everything in my power to be who God wants me to be. It was let it be with me according to Gods word. I trust that I am who God says that I am. Here’s where I want to take a page from Mary’s prayer book. Let me be what your word has claimed me to be. Let me become what you have said I am. Your word, oh God, and not the word of the school system or the word of my bank statement or the word of my family or the word of society or the word of the media. But your word O God, let this be what defines me. I will allow you alone to determine my worth. What a profound lesson that is! Let God's calling us worthy of His love, His favor, and His mercy be our calling, not our own sense of worthiness, failure, or inadequacy! Another one of my favorite theologians and authors, Marcus Borg, talked about Advent from a different perspective: Christmas matters for Christians because Jesus matters for Christians. And what was Jesus about? His message, his passion, was about the coming of the Kingdom of God. It was about the transformation of this world into a different kind of world. It was about the downfall of domination systems and the birth of a world of justice and peace. Of course, the Kingdom of God is also about our individual transformation through loving the Lord our God with all our heart and mind and strength. It is about our transformation and the transformation of the world. You can read his blog at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/marcusborg. My last great lesson came from my a dear friend. She reminded me that "the wonderful day of Jesus' birth into this world reminds us all again of Immanuel--God is with us!" I love this simple and yet profound thought that in Jesus and His birth, we can be sure that God is with us--not just at Christmas or during Advent, but in the everyday ordinariness of life. We can claim that knowledge and rest in it every day, at every moment. God is with us! He suffers with us, rejoices with us, listens to us, walks with us, and most of all, love us! I pray that the blessings and lessons of Advent be real to us as we journey through the everyday life.