…Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel… – Isaiah 7:14
What is Christmas? It is such a simple question, but the answers that you would receive if you asked it of a cross-section of people would be widely varied. You might think that they were not even talking about the same day. And such it should be. For no other day has touched the very heart of humanity as this day has, and it is not surprising that its effects are manifold and diverse even among those who know it only as a pagan holiday. What is Christmas? It is simply the most marvelous miracle that has ever been known to this world since creation, and no man can escape its glory.
To see why this is so, consider the world prior to the first Christmas. Genesis 3:17-19 says Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you…In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return. Or consider Ephesians 2:1-3 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins…and were by nature children of wrath…Therefore remember…that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. The pre-Christmas world is a pretty bleak one. Borrowing from the above scriptures, it is as close to the classic definition of despair that we can get; cursed, dead children of wrath, having no hope and without God in the world.
But then came the miracle of Christmas. The prophet foresaw its breadth of scope, The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined — Isaiah 9:2. The apostle bore witness to its significance, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it — John 1:1-5. And the angels proclaimed its wonderment, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men! — Luke 2:14
And how great a miracle it was. No longer cursed, but blessed. No longer dead, but born again. No longer children of wrath, but children of grace. No longer without hope, but now having hope as the anchor to our souls. No longer without God in the world, but — and this may be the greatest of all — having and knowing Immanuel, God with us. How can we express the wonder of Christmas? In what language can we find the proper phrases? In what carol can we sing the right notes and melody? How can we even hope to portray the eternity of that night with such shallow words as this description. We can do no better than to proclaim the word which the Lord Himself has given to declare the fullness of what Christmas must be to me, to you, to us. IMMANUEL, God with us. Come, let us adore Him.
Russell currently serves as an elder in the church. His own spiritual pilgrimage extends back almost 40 years and includes a sojourn in the Roman Catholic, American Baptist, Lutheran, Independent Charismatic, Independent Congregational, home fellowship, and Federated Congregational church settings. In these settings he has served as a catechist, bible teacher, independent school principal, outreach coordinator, and ordained pastor. His current life verse is Romans 1:15. “So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you…”