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Anticipating Christmas
“From his fullness, we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.”
John 1:16-18

Easter lasts seven weeks, Pentecost lasts 20 plus weeks, and even Lent gets six weeks, but Christmas lasts only 12 short days. Despite being such a short season, Christmas more than makes up for it by receiving greater attention than any other secular or religious holiday. We can partly thank the retail industry for this. What’s more, the season of Christmas seems to grow longer each year due to something called “Christmas Creep”—a phenomenon in which retailers introduce Christmas merchandise weeks before the official start of the season. Starbucks is a good example of this. This year, the company unveiled their bright red Christmas cups on Nov. 4. I delight in the extended Christmas season, despite its smothering effect on Advent, which tends to get shortchanged. I mean, is it ever too early for a Chestnut Praline Latte? Some would say, yes, especially when it is 85 degrees outside.

Yet, regardless where you fall on the Christmas season debate—too soon or not soon enough—on the whole, the cultural charm associated with Christmas is positive, if for no other reason than it calls attention to Jesus of Nazareth. This is a good thing.

John tells us, “No one has ever seen God.” Why? Because sin has severed humanity’s relationship with God. As a result, a great chasm exists between us and God, but John goes on to say that there is a remedy to this broken relationship, “It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” In other words, the Son has come to make God known. This is what Christmas is all about—God coming down from heaven in order that we might know Him.

The Swiss Reformer John Calvin called God’s coming down from heaven “God’s condescension,” which he described as the eternal God becoming vulnerable in order to become available to us. Another Swiss theologian, Karl Barth, famously called the incarnation the “Divine Stoop,” or God’s bending down to our level and making Himself known.
What is Christmas about? Very simply, it is about God coming to us, through His Son, so that we might know Him. This is worth getting excited about. So even though it’s still Advent... Merry Christmas!
The Rev. Alex D. Graham III
Associate for Children and Family Ministries
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