I love singing carols at Christmas (though using the term “singing” may be an optimistic). I love the music. I love the familiarity. I love the warm memories that flood in. I love the memories I have of singing them as a little girl sharing a hymnal with my dad. I love the visions in my head of children’s choirs dressed in angel costumes singing, the familiar words being sung as loud as their little lungs would allow. I love how singing carols just makes it feel like Christmas.
But sometimes it also feels just a little empty. Just tradition. Just hoops we step through on the way to Christmas morning and stockings and gifts. I could be singing about Santa Claus or Christ’s birth with equal zeal while making out to-do lists in my mind and wondering if I remembered to switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer before we left the house.
Why the emptiness as I consider the birth of Jesus?
The fourth line of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” recently caught my attention and struck my heart. “God and sinners reconciled”. It is profound really. The heart and hope of Christmas right there in line 4 of a so familiar Christmas carol.
God and sinners reconciled. God is holy and He is great. He is perfect in all of His ways. He created the universe, mankind, you and me. He created the oceans and their creatures, the skies and their creatures. He placed the mountains and the valleys, the stars and every grain of sand. He holds our very breath and life in His hands. He alone is worthy of all praise and glory.
God is just and all sin – doing what is wrong, going against what God has declared to be right and has written on our hearts to be right– is deserving of God’s holy wrath. Any sin at all – any lie or theft, any lusting or sexual immorality, any jealousy or malice or anger or drunkenness – makes us sinners and separates us from God. In God’s presence there is fullness of joy. And our sin eternally separates us from His presence and sets our destiny to Hell. There is no amount of right-doing that can erase the penalty due to us for even the wrong-doings in our lives. And I don’t know about you, but I have more than a little wrong-doing in my life!
But I go about my days feeling like a good person. In comparison to other people, I feel like I do pretty well. But as I consider the truth that God lays out in His Word, I realize that I am not a good person. As I consider God’s holiness and look at my heart against His laws, I can do nothing but conclude that I am a sinner. I have tragic huge, obvious sin in my past that He has dealt with, but I also still have day-to-day, heart level sin rearing its ugly head over and over. Jealousy? Check. Discontentment? Check. Anger? Check. Selfishness? Check. Do I need to go on?
Apart from Jesus Christ, I would have no hope of a relationship with a holy God. By default, by my own ability, I am His enemy. But while I was still His enemy, God did this amazing, profound, astounding work. Jesus Christ came to earth as a baby. Jesus Christ – fully man and fully God – came to earth to live a perfect life, to be crucified as He bore the wrath for the sins of those who would put their faith in Him alone for salvation and to be resurrected. It was God’s plan for redeeming mankind since the creation of the world.
Jesus Christ came to the earth to make peace between our holy God and sinful man. By His perfect life and wrath-bearing death, He reconciled sinful me to God. His birth is the beginning of the rescue mission that was planned from the beginning of time. Of course it should be celebrated!
I am convinced that I don’t celebrate like I should because I forget my desperate need for a savior. I forget how holy God is and how sinful I am. As I soak in God’s word it reminds me of both of these fundamental truths. As I meditate on God’s truth I am drawn out of the busy preparations for Christmas celebration and into a place of simply worshiping God in simple awe that Jesus Christ came to save a sinner like me.
How about you? Is Christmas empty for you this year? If you have been saved by Jesus Christ, won’t you take time to remember why you needed a savior and what you have been saved from? To remember what it means for God and sinners to be reconciled? If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please consider the hope that is offered to you through Jesus Christ. Hope of being forgiven by God and lead away from sin and death into joy and life. Won’t you rejoice with me in Christ’s birth this year?