Anticipation builds as we inch towards Christmas. We’re told Christmas is the “best time of the year,” and are promised “sentimental feelings” as we surround ourselves with songs, decorations, gift giving, family, and friends. However, the commercialization of Christmas has distorted our anticipation. There is joy in this, but it pales in comparison to the anticipated joy Christmas should elicit. Christmas hope does mean “Joy to the World”. A question asked during Advent, but absent in our cultural liturgy, is: why does Christmas mean joy to the world?
Our cultural liturgy wrongly suggests all is well. But, all is not well. The world is, in fact, marred by sin and in desperate need of someone to put it right.
As the Old Testament ends Israel has physically returned from exile but God’s Spirit has not returned as promised. Desperate, Israel longs for God to act—to break into the darkness with his light, to liberate, to pour out his Spirit, to bring shalom.
Into the midst of this longing Jesus comes—Word made flesh, born to save the world! At his baptism God’s Spirit does return! Signs of God’s kingdom undoing the world’s brokenness are displayed as Jesus teaches, heals, and forgives.
However, his life and ministry were often misunderstood. Thus, Jesus declares in Matt. 5:17-18 that his life is not about undoing the Law and Prophets, but fulfilling and accomplishing them. Jesus came to earth to accomplish God’s rescue plan by righteously fulfilling the Law’s requirements. It was not to initiate God’s-Rescue-Plan-B. He came to fulfill and accomplish what God had promised long ago. Everything about Christ’s righteous life was to this end.
- Luke Kunefke
1) Consider Christ’s righteousness in juxtaposition to the unrighteousness in our world and selves.
2) Then, thank God for the gift of Jesus and ask for grace to imitate his righteousness.
*What if you had never heard of Christmas before and you walked into a toy store or a bookstore (or any store) in December. What would kinds of things would you see? What might you think Christmas is about? Now, what if, instead, you walk into a church in December? What kinds of things would you see? What might you think Christmas is about? Why do you think these two versions of Christmas are so different?
**Brother Jesus, you always knew that you were on a mission to save us, and you did that through fulfilling God’s perfect law for us and taking away our imperfection. Help us remember that true peace comes from knowing you and joy comes from being with you. Amen.
 A Holly Jolly Christmas, Johnny Marks; Columbia Records, 1962.
 Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, Johnny Marks; Decca Records, 1958.
 John 1:14, ESV.