December 18, 2017 by Amy Shatrick
Christmas Past and Future
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign, Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15)
When my oldest child, Abbey, was 8 months old, I was always looking for ways to entertain and teach her. That year I discovered a local plant nursery that put on a showy, and intricate holiday display. This month-long event included a multitude of trees that were decorated in themes ranging from college sports with logos, mascots, and balls, to elegant Victorian trees with pink feathers, pearls, and miniature teacups. Christmas music escorted us through an endless winter wonderland filled with icicles, sparkling stars, candles, nativity sets, and wonderful smells. Abbey was dazzled, entertained, and thrilled to get her very own ornament. Every mom with a young child will get why that was so pleasing to me. Visiting this nursery, and picking ornaments became a tradition in our home, and we have done it for nineteen years.
Most of the families that I know celebrate Christmas with a mix of secular and Christian traditions, with each family putting their own spin on the holiday. Many of the families include a manger scene in their decor. As we look at and touch the pieces, we remember and celebrate why Jesus came to earth. We remember Joseph and Mary, the shepherds, the wise men, and the manger. These help us reflect on the amazing idea of God coming to earth as a man to bear our sin and to remember it no more. (Psalm 103:12)
My Abbey, always inquisitive, has grown in her ability to process and think, so now Christmas brings many deeper thoughts and questions to her mind. For the last few years it has been, “What is the Spirit of Christmas anyway?” When she was a child I pointed her to Jesus and explained why He came over 2000 years ago. We opened an Advent calendar, and I read to her out of the Bible in the books of Matthew, and Luke, and spoke of man’s sin and God’s love. As she has become a young woman and is capable of more abstract thinking, we now include discussions of Jesus’s second coming sometime in the future. She has been able to understand that Jesus has dealt with sin, death, and the devil, but that he has yet to set up His kingdom here on earth, and put them in their final place. These are all exciting and mysterious future events that we now also discuss and celebrate at Christmas. Abbey knows that the traditional Christmas celebration of Jesus’s birth is just one part of a much bigger story; the story of a king, who loves her so much he died for her and is coming back for her. She can ponder this as she sees the glowing lights of a Christmas tree, or as she opens up the tab on yet another Advent Calendar, or as we stroll the nursery looking for that special ornament. When we look upon a manger scene we can know for certain, and anticipate with joy, that King Jesus is coming again with power and authority and might; not as a helpless baby, but as a powerful and victorious king!
In Colossians 1:13-14 we are edified knowing that “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son. In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin.” In Revelation 21:3-4 we are given a future hope with these words: And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Abbey is no longer a small child content only to look at bright lights, and sparkly ornaments. Neither is Jesus a small baby, tender or mild. He is the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, whose return is imminent.
Merry Christmas, and Come quickly Lord Jesus!