Wednesday, December 24, 2008
The Great Googly Moogly (throughout the years) wishes you a Merry Christmas
When we say or simply consider these words, it seems that the focus (at least for Christians) is the Babe in the manger. We think mainly (or only, sometimes) of the story of the Birth of Christ. Our minds are filled with visions of shepherds and angels, wise men and stars (or, more precisely, the star), the virgin birth and the power of the Spirit; we think of prophecies both old (Isaiah, Micah & Malachi, etc.) and new (Gabriel, Zacharias & Simeon) and the magnificent Magnificant of Mary; we consider the wonder of God coming in the flesh, of Emmanuel--God With Us! Our Christmas celebration abounds with the joy of the Good News that Christ has been born!
And there's nothing wrong with this. We should be filled with joy and wonderment, even a sense of awe and astonishment when we consider the story of the Birth of Christ. In Christ, God really has come in the flesh. And, we rightly understand and proclaim, He came in order to secure our redemption. But it seems that our Christmas celebration begins and ends, more often than not, only with the story of the Birth of Christ with little regard to the full meaning & purpose of His coming. Sure, we acknowledge in our conversation and even in our cards (when we can find them) the fact that Jesus was born in order to save us from our sin, that He came for our redemption. But do we acknowledge and proclaim (or even understand) that His birth is really the beginning of the fulfillment of all the Scripture; that in the birth of Christ the purpose of God for His entire Created Order is in process of being fulfilled?
The "Christmas Story" is really the story of the whole Bible. From the very beginning of Redemptive History (and even prior, but that's another post!), when God promised a "Seed" to the woman, the trajectory of the entirety of the Scripture was pointed to the coming of Christ. The Seed of the Woman who was promised to come is the One who will crush the serpent's head, reverse the curse and recover Sacred Space (see previous posts) ushering in the New Creation--the New Creation that is already upon us in the Kingdom of God of which we're a part of now, and the New Creation that will be consummated in the redemption of the entire Created Order upon Christ's return. This is the One who will redeem not only God's people, but the entire Created Order; and not simply to its original Shalomic state before The Fall, but to its consummate Shalomic state--the state of Creation that Eden only typified in its non-exhaustive or non-consummate perfection. The coming of Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament and means that we're in the "Last Days". The Birth of Christ means that God's purpose to set things right will be fulfilled; God will "sum up all things in Him (His Son). The Christmas Story is really the story that is told from Genesis to Revelation; it's the story of Redemption from beginning to consummation! The Birth of Christ is simply one aspect to the Christmas Story (though, obviously, a crucial aspect)!
As I've suggested in other places, the purpose of the Old Testament is simply to paint the portrait of Christ--who He is & what He is to accomplish. Since God's purpose in redemptive history is to redeem His creation and recover and consummate what was lost in The Fall, and since He does so by "summing up all things in Christ", then every idea, concept, event, situation, people group, etc., (including "the Law"), that contributes to His purpose adds brush-strokes, so-to-speak, to the portrait of Christ. There is nothing in the Old Testament that falls outside of the purpose of God in Christ. That being the case, when we celebrate Christmas, we're celebrating the accomplishment of the purpose of God--to redeem His creation! We can't just begin and end our celebration with the Babe in the Manger; we need to celebrate the New Creation that has come in & through the Babe in the Manger who is also the Man on the Cross who is also the King on His throne! We're celebrating Communion this Sunday and this is every bit a part of the Christmas Story as is the Birth of Christ. And that's because the Christmas Story doesn't begin and end with the Birth of Christ--it begins at Creation and ends at Consummation!
Our Christmas celebration is the celebration of Jesus Christ and the meaning of His birth. Do we celebrate Him in His fullness? Do we celebrate Him in the full knowledge of who He is & what He came to do? Everything in the Old Testament contributes to painting His portrait. Jesus Christ is the promised Seed of the Woman, the Seed of Abraham, the Seed of David; He's the true "Israel", Servant, Disciple and Witness. He's the Messiah, King, High Priest and Lamb. He's the Prophet, the Prince of Peace, Mighty God and Eternal Father. He's the true "Chosen One", the Man of the Spirit, the true Son of God. He really is Emmanuel--God With Us! And He's come in fulfillment of the Scripture to recover and restore God's good creation! This is Christmas! This is what we celebrate at this time of year and always!