I grew up in the mountains of southwest Virginia where it was fairly common to have snow for Christmas. My most wonderful memories are not of falling snow, but taking “nature hikes” in the moonlight after a satisfying meal of leftovers. Whether the sky was clear and dark, or whether it was accented by puffy shadow-clouds fringed in shimmering silver, the full moon on fresh snow so illuminated the landscape that there was no need for flashlights. Accompanying this dream-like scene was an amazing deep silence, as if the snow was acting as a blanket and muffler for everything except the soft padding of footsteps and heavy breathing of brisk air. The overwhelming peace in the stillness of that scene translated me to that first Christmas night, where the literal feel of holiness was breathtaking. I would gaze upon the moon in wonder that it had also shone over the baby Jesus, and I somehow felt intimately connected with the surpassing love and grace of God. How I wished those nights could go on forever!
I always wanted to replicate this for my boys, but we lived where there were too many houses, too much ambient light, and almost no snow. However, the wonder of what God did in sending His Son as a precious baby to grow and live among men has not changed with changes of locale. We can still access the holiness of the moment by ceasing all activity and projecting ourselves into the unlikely but world-changing scene of a birth celebrated by an angel choir of thousands and a handful of farm animals – illustrative of surpassing royalty and abject humility.
The most profound question for us is what does this one-of-a-kind birth mean for us today? Is this a yearly romanticized dose of peace, or a wonderful seasonal bedtime story, or something tangible we can actually appropriate and apply? While most of us would like to claim the latter, the evidence of our lives will give us the real answer. If peace is illusive, love is conditional, and the next “thing” is occupying our thoughts and energies, we’ve missed it. It is only by sitting in the quietness and holiness of Jesus’ Presence that we even begin to grasp what He so wants us to know: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Jeremiah quotes Him saying, “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27)
If we are to take Jesus at His Word – to trust in His Nature as Truth – those words should completely change our perspectives to see Jesus as very active and intricately involved in every issue that comes our way. The result would be peace that belies every circumstance, guarding our hearts and minds in Him each day; and joy not dependent on situations, but emanating from the Person of Jesus. May Christmas birth in us the desire to keep Jesus constantly foremost in our lives, hearts, and minds. And may the glorious reality of abiding in Him irrevocably change us to look more like Him to a world that desperately needs His touch.