Hebrews 2:9 ESV - But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
Living in Costa Rica has had it’s challenges. There is no denying that. Through all of the challenges I have come up with various ways of dealing with them. Most challenges, I have tried to face head on. They are still works in progress. Some of the challenges I can do something about but they will take time. I have tried very hard to address the difficulties that are a result of being out of my comfort zone and I think that I am doing a fairly good job at it but today I was convicted. This morning God convicted me of the way that I was dealing with Christmas away from home.
Last year was my “year of lasts” and this year is my “year of firsts”, and with that comes my first Christmas away from home. Christmas here, at least now, seems so much more different than it does at home. We don’t have a wall full of Christmas cards like I am used to seeing, in fact we have only received one. We didn’t get to cut down our own tree then have hot chocolate while decorating it. I can’t get in my car and drive to the mall. I can’t order any gifts online and have them shipped to my house. I can take the bus to the mall but once I get there I can’t buy much because we don’t have a lot of money and things here are very expensive. I haven’t noticed any 30-50% off sales like at home. Oh yeah, once I get to the mall everything is in a language that I do not know yet. I am learning Spanish but at this time I can barely get by. Christmas seems so out of place this year. I often find myself longing to be home with my family and my friends in the beautiful PNW, in my holiday comfort zone. I decided to deal with the longing to be home during the holiday season by pretending that it wasn’t happening. I can’t miss Christmas if Christmas doesn’t happen.
I have been ignoring Christmas. I like to deal with things by joking so I would make comments about us having a white sand Christmas or the only white Christmas that I’ll have is my white legs. While joking about it I would be longing for the cold rainy/snowy weather at home not that I like the weather but it sets the Christmas mood. This year I will not get to spend Christmas with my Mom and Dad and sister and nieces. All of the traditions with my family will not happen this year, you know, all of the stuff that makes Christmas Christmas. As I was thinking about this God hit me on the side of the head.
How dare I try to make Christmas about me. How dare I make it about how comfortable I am. How dare I make Christmas about my family. Christmas is not about me. How can I truly understand Christ’s sacrifice for us when I turned his birthday celebration into buying a shirt at Old Navy for my wife or barbies for my daughters. Christmas isn’t about me. I have missed the point for so many years. If asked I would have told you that I knew what Christmas meant and I would have believed it. It took God bringing me out of my holiday comfort zone to see how I have marginalized His son’s birth.
Imagine how Jesus felt. He went from his home in Heaven, perfect Heaven, to life on sinful earth where his whole purpose was to die a brutal death on a cross for us. Jesus probably missed his home but He was sent to earth for a purpose and that purpose was to die for me. Easter is the true meaning of Christmas. While I was trying to ignore Christmas this year because I was not able to have a comfortable season I forgot what it truly means. Jesus was born in a manger. I am willing to bet that it wasn’t anywhere near as pretty as the nativity scenes that we see. It was a manger, a barn, a house for smelly animals that go to the bathroom where they please. This is where the man who saved the world was born.
Jesus was born in a smelly, stinky barn in a smelly, stinky fallen world with the purpose of dying a criminal’s death to save me and you. Take a few minutes and think about that. I am serious, take 5 minutes, go to a quiet room and think about what Jesus gave up.
I gave up a town named Lynden, and as much as people would like to think Lynden is Heaven, it is not. It’s a farm community and sometimes it smells. What do you do when it stinks? You close the windows to flee from the odor. You don’t go towards stench to give birth. Let me say it again, Jesus was born in a smelly, stinky barn in a smelly, stinky, fallen world with the purpose of dying a criminal’s death to save me and you. Really truly think about that. Jesus would have been humbling himself if he was born in a palace because it still was not Heaven but he wasn’t. He was born in a place that most of us don’t even want to walk through.
Now that I have spent some time thinking about what Jesus really gave up for me I am ready for Christmas. I am ready to deal with the fact that I am away from my home. I can accept that I won’t get to put on my heavy jacket and go for my Christmas morning walk along the bridge over the Fraser river with my whole family and the dogs. I am understanding that my sacrifice cannot even compare to the sacrifice that Jesus made by coming to earth. I may not be with the McBride family this year but I have great comfort knowing that we are all celebrating the the same thing. We are thousands of miles apart and we will be in worship together. We will be celebrating the birth of the greatest gift ever. The gift that came down to us and was born in a smelly barn in a fallen world.
Hebrews 1:3 ESV – He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,