There is little doubt that our past can significantly influence our present. This becomes crystal clear around the holidays. For instance, the way Christmas was kept or not kept in our homes growing up can influence how we keep it today. The experience of a loved one passing can have a real impact on how we receive the Christmas season. The birth of a child can magnify the joys of the season. Our past can affect our present in so many ways.
Although the days of my childhood are decades ago, I still approach Christmas with childlike excitement. My memories of Christmas past are filled with joy fueling a growing anticipation of the season. I start listening to Christmas music on October 1. I really like Christmas.
This Christmas season is an interesting one for me. My Mom passed last April. I have to admit that it will be different experiencing the season without her presence. I mourn a bit while celebrating her first Christmas with Christ unhindered by the stuff of earth. Past events, situations, and the sort have an impact on our present.
There, however, is one past event that can radically change our present. In fact, this one past event has the potential to overcome the difficulties of the past and by far outshine the good memories of yesteryears. This event is the birth of Christ.
The prophet Isaiah prophesying about the divine birth proclaimed:
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6).
The context to the message Isaiah presents here is in response to the dark situation he mentions prior to this passage in the book bearing his name. The purpose of the message is that where darkness had fallen light would shine. The world we live in is full of heartache and pain. All the peoples of the earth are under judgment. This is grim news. However, God is not determined to allow His children to remain in such a bleak and hopeless situation, even if it is due to our rebellion. God’s goodness provides salvation. For a child will be born who is the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.”
God’s answer to the destructive pride of the world is a child, God’s own Son. He will be what no human king has ever been. As “Wonderful Counselor” he can give guidance that is truly great. As “Mighty God” Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. As “Everlasting Father” He is to His people a Father who is always present. As “Prince of Peace” he can bring lasting peace. This is hope personified in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
The process of redemption begins with this knowledge of Christmas past. However, knowledge is not enough. What happened 2,000 years ago has implication on our lives today. Many know that Christmas is about Jesus’ birth, but few know the personal cost this was to God. This act of love was set into motion at the beginning of humanity. God in all His majesty determined to be humbled so that everyone would have the opportunity to have a personal relationship with Him. This was at great personal cost, to say the least. God loves us so much that He took on our debt so that we can know Him. We were on the very mind of God from the beginning. In fact, that first Christmas was marked by God’s love for us with the most selfless act of all time – the very decision of our Lord to humble himself and come born into poverty and die on a cross so that we can have a personal, saving, relationship with Him. This past event can radically change our present by bringing salvation and infusing us with hope.
I pray this Christmas season finds you immersed in the grace and love of Christ. I pray that this one event, Christ’s birth, outshines everything else in your life. I pray that the light of Christ warms your heart and shines brightly to those around you. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!