Christmas means joy, peace, and love. Scripture tells us the birth of Jesus is Immanuel, “God is with us.” Charles Wesley describes what this means in his great hymn, “Glory to God On High”:
We, earth’s children, now rejoice,
The Prince of Peace proclaim;
With heaven’s host lift up our voice,
And shout Immanuel’s name:
Knees and hearts to him we bow;
Of our flesh and of our bone,
Jesus is our brother now,
And God is all our own.
The One who created heaven and earth, who is Lord of the Universe, became one of us. He entered the human family through the pain, blood, and water of Mary’s womb.
Mary was an unmarried Jewish girl from Nazareth in Galilee, a region known for raising up trouble-makers and zealots. God chose Mary, a daughter of a poor and oppressed people. God chose Mary, a girl from a family with no distinction, power, social position or titles. God chose Mary because of her faith, hope, and love.
After the angel invited her to join God’s mission to redeem planet Earth Mary sang a song describing the world as it will be when God’s mission comes to pass through her Son, Jesus; his life, death, and resurrection:
I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now
(Luke 1:47-55, The Message).
Christmas is about God turning the world as it is upside-down. Love overcomes the powers of domination, oppression, and greed. Love sets the world right. Christmas reminds the prideful and arrogant rich who think they are in charge the true ruler of this world is Mary’s Son, Jesus of Nazareth, who is Christ the Lord. John tells us who he is:
All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. …
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. … From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known (John 1:3-5, 10-14, 16-18, NRSV).
Christmas means God’s love has broken into the world in Mary’s Son, Jesus. He is in our neighborhood inviting us to join him and his mission.