But silly cards and snowmen and Santa and elves are not what Christmas is about. Neither is it about giving or "Holiday Spirit" or even family. It's a mis-dated reminder of the greatest invasion our planet has ever had: a newborn in a barn. It was the personal landing of the creator among the created. The idea was simple, but the effect profound. Long ago there had been a rebellion, a seemingly simple disobedience (forbidden fruit) that opened the floodgates of hell. And we have been in enemy territory ever since. But this… this baby, the one who *chose* to come, did come. The plan was radical: this baby would become the ransom for those in enemy territory. A prisoner exchange, if you will. Everyone who would believe… this baby now man would trade his life for theirs. Him for you. His death, your life. Talk about gift giving.
But the story has gotten snowed in under mountains of catalogs, cookies, and tons of crap we don't need. Meanwhile, the real story, the REAL gift is often forgotten. For those of you familiar with the story and what it means, I encourage you to dust if off. For friends (or strangers) who look at this with skeptical eye and wonder if this whole "Jesus" thing isn't as much pretend as Frosty the Snowman, I'd ask this: How's the future looking without a God who cares enough to sacrifice Himself for you? One who came personally to make the downpayment and left only after a promise to come again and wrap it up -- forever.
Me? I look at the news -- pick a day, any day -- and I don't see this planet getting better on its own. Pick your tragedy: school shootings, famine and starvation, environmental destruction, poverty, civil war, hurricanes, human trafficking, tsunamis, drought. Whatever. We are not heading into utopia. We are not doing a great job left to our own devices. Millions suspect something very bad is going to go down sooner than later, and I agree. But through that, on the other end of that, and until then… I have hope. I have confidence in how it turns out. I have peace, and it's all because of that baby in a manger.
If you're like me and you suspect we did not get here on our own, nor are we going to pull out of this nosedive on our own, and you'd like that peace, that confidence and hope… it's real. It's in the Bible. And before you call it hokey and fable, look at the headlines of any news outlet anywhere and tell me how we're doing without it. Want to know more about this Jesus? The Bible is the place to start. Get a modern translation and google "bible reading plan" and start. Additionally, here are three books I've found that I recommend: "Beautiful Outlaw" by John Eldredge. "What's so Amazing About Grace?" by Philip Yancey. And "Messiah" by Jerry D. Thomas. And though I don't have all the answers, I'm willing to listen to questions. Contact me through www.stenbakken.com
From our family to you… we wish you better than a merely merry Christmas.