Today’s rediscovered decoration is a glass wreath. I know most Christmas wreaths are typically made of evergreen but this particular Christmas wreath is made of stained glass. It hangs in my kitchen window, a thing of beauty as the sun shines through its green glass. Like the other decorations, my glass wreath has her own story, her own history of how she came to be with me.
I must confess – this glass wreath is not a hand me down decoration. I chose her for myself so many years ago, while shopping with my sisters. We were on a “sisters retreat” in San Antonio, Texas at the Riverwalk, a well known shopping district. Within the Riverwalk there is an enchanting place called “La Villita.” Ascending many tiled stairs, one enters into this community of artisans and their shops and it was there we found ourselves in a shop surrounded by stained glass creations of every kind.
Although it was summer, the Christmas wreath is what caught my eye. This was not a Christmas shopping trip by any stretch of the imagination. But it was this stained glass Christmas wreath that I brought home with me from my getaway adventure with my sisters all those years ago. Today as I continue my Advent preparations, my stained glass Christmas wreath reminds me of the summer adventure I shared with my sisters, as we explored a new place together.
I should mention that we each live in different states, my sisters and I, so time together doesn’t happen unless there is a plan. This time we had made a plan and we had carried it out. As I enjoy my glass wreath every December, I remember and relive our adventure in my mind and feel close to my sisters even though distance separates us.
Advent is about remembering. We remember Jesus’s birth story, all of it. How it came to be that the Son of God came to earth as a baby, born on that cold Christmas night some two thousand twenty years ago. What is so remarkable about the story of the baby in the manger? Pretty much everything, as it turns out.
In hearing the Christmas story I am reminded once again that Jesus gave up everything to come here. In fact Philippians 2:6-8 tells me that Jesus,
“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”
Jesus gave up everything He had to come here and suffer. He left His position, His power, His comfort, His glory, His ease and painfree limitless form – to submit Himself to our earthly limits. Infinite in being, Jesus took on finite form. Jesus shared in our hunger, thirst, fatigue, pain, loss, (remember Lazarus?) separation from the Father (why He prayed) and our loneliness.
Timeless in being, Jesus entered into our history – taking on our time constraints, our hours and our days, our sleepless nights and special moments, encounters with eternity among ordinary hours of seemingly identical days. Jesus came here knowing He would experience loss, loneliness, betrayal, – that He would be misunderstood, lied about, blasphemed and put to death even though innocent. And still Jesus came.
That’s why we celebrate Jesus’s birth. The infinite became finite for a moment and walked with us and bore our burdens. We celebrate the arrival of our Deliverer. We celebrate God’s promise to Abraham kept. That promise was also God’s promise to you and to me. Isaiah 53:4-5 is reason to rejoice in God’s great mercy –
“Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”
God’s promised Messiah arrived that first Christmas night. A man named Simeon understood the miracle that is Jesus’s birth. We read his account in Luke 2:28-32,
“Simeon took Him (Jesus) in his arms and praised God, saying: ‘Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, You now dismiss Your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to Your people Israel.’ ”
Jesus is God’s salvation for me and for you. The celebration of Christmas is more than a birthday party, it is the acknowledgement that God’s gift to mankind has been given and now it falls to us to prepare, to make room to receive this gift so sacrificially given, this gift that I don’t deserve but nonetheless has already been given. Jesus offers me Himself. Nothing remains for me but to let Him in.
The Savior has come! The Savior is coming again!
“Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is He, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty – He is the King of glory.” (Psalm 24:7-10)
sincerely, Grace Day