Working in retail this time of year for the first time, I’m realizing that it’s difficult to remember what Christmas is really about.
At my job it’s about lines, money, and consumerism. In a way, it’s about showing people that you care.. about buying them (hopefully) thoughtful gifts. But, that doesn’t make it any better for someone like me. Someone who has a lot of people in my life who I care about, and not a lot of money to show that I care. I can get behind showing someone that you thought about them and care, but I think you should do it because you want to and you can without having to stress about it. I like the unexpected gift. The.. I thought about you even though I didn’t have to gift.
Anyways.. my point isn’t really to rant about what Christmas isn’t about. Or about how RUDE cranky shoppers can be. It’s just to remind myself and anybody else of the something that’s beautiful about Christmas to me.
As I was just thinking about work tonight and the Christmas attitude that I’m missing, Isaiah 6 came to mind. Isaiah 6 is one of the most beautiful pictures painted in scripture. Here it is in New Living Translation:
Isaiah 6: 1-8
1 It was in the year King Uzziah died[a] that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. 2 Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3They were calling out to each other,
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lordof Heaven’s Armies!
The whole earth is filled with his glory!”
4Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.
5 Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lordof Heaven’s Armies.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”
8Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”
I said, “Here I am. Send me.”
The chapter is kind of broken into 2 parts, and this is just the first part. The reason I think it’s so beautiful, is because God is so holy and powerful and mighty – the angels/seraphim are so in reverance of Him that they cover their eyes. They can’t even bear to look at Him. They’re just calling out to each other in praise and worship of God. And the sound of their voices is so powerful that it shakes the foundations of the temple. Their praise of God shakes the buiding. If the seraphim are that powerful, how powerful must the God who they are worshipping be?
And then Isaiah cries out that he is so unworthy to be in God’s presence. His ‘filthy lips’, the fact that he is a fallen man means that he doesn’t deserve to be in the presence of God’s holiness. But he is cleansed with a burning coal. The seraphim tells him ‘Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.’ No questions asked about what Isaiah has done in the past to screw up, no guilt trips, no punishments to pay for his debt to society. It’s forgiven. Because of this, Isaiah is stoked to serve God. To do anything he can to please the God he loves – out of love, not out of obligation.
And that’s what Christmas is about for me. It’s about God sending Jesus (Emmanuel – God with us) to the world – his holy, clean, perfect son – to pay the price for our sins. To be our atonement, no questions asked. It’s about the fact that God is so holy, beautiful, and mighty that the very rocks will cry out in worship for him. And that very same powerful God, knows our names and loves us and accepts us just as we are.
Anyways.. thanks for reading. Have a Merry Christmas!