I heard a song recently that wonderfully marries Jesus's humble humanity with his gracious glory. As you reflect on the words, I hope it only adds to the miracle of Christmas. Merry Christmas!
I am a California girl born and bred. I am used to tule fog, rain, thunderstorms, snow, and hail. I am not used to tornadoes.
My father is from the Midwest—Missouri. They have tornadoes. And what I have heard, since I have never experienced it, is that right before a tornado hits, there is extreme silence—the so called, calm before the storm. Then when the tornado hits, everything changes in the blink of an eye.
This takes me back to another silent night. The one preceding the birth of Christ. That silence also preceded extreme change. In fact, the whole world changed. And despite the recent change from BC/AD to BCE/ACE, most people still use the birth of Christ as the reference point to a change in era.
Tonight, on the celebrated anniversary of that first silent night over 2000 years ago, I am reminded that each of us, at some point, will come face to face with our own silent night, that moment when we have the opportunity to change our future immediately from one of uncertainty and despair to one of certainty and hope.
For those who have already made this choice, then the words Merry Christmas are special indeed.
Because of Christmas carols and longstanding myths, there is a lot of misinformation about the wise men who came to see the baby Jesus.
One song classifies them as three kings while the Bible says nothing about the number that came, only that there were three gifts. As for being kings? Traditionally, the word “magi” means, “ a wise man or priest, who was expert in astrology, interpretation of dreams and various other occult arts.” Again, the Bible gives no indication if this is how it was being interpreted here or not. But most scholars have settled on the term “wise man.”
They did come from the East, but from where exactly is not said. Since there are other reports regarding wise men in the book of Daniel, and Daniel had lived in Babylon, (which is to the east) many believe they came from there.
But, regardless of the misconceptions or uncertainties of these men, three things do remain true.
First, they were curious. They had heard of the prophecy regarding the King of the Jews, most likely from the faithful held captive in Babylon, and very likely beginning with Daniel, who would have rubbed elbows with “wise men” because of his position. This curiosity is even more incredible as it would have been 500 years since the time of David until these wise men’s time.
Second, they were searching. As men interested and educated in astronomy and astrology, they would have assumed, as soon as the star appeared in the sky, that something of great import was taking place. This, coupled with their curiosity about the prophecy regarding the King of the Jews, started them on a journey that would have taken anywhere from 40 days to two years based on what the Bible does say about the age of Christ when they arrived and Herod’s reaction.
Their searching started with the prophecy but continued through what may not have been an easy or short journey.
Finally, when they did see Jesus, they were not dissuaded by his humble position. Despite their education, they readily accepted the truth before them.
Today, many are curious about who Jesus is. Many are searching for meaning, significance, and truth. But many stumble over the simplicity and humbleness of Christ’s birth.
This Christmas season, I pray that the curious are satisfied, that the seekers find the truth, and that the intellectually skeptical will believe the simplicity of salvation.
One of my favorite parts of the Christmas season is watching the wonder and awe on the faces of young children. When they look at the lights and ornaments on the tree and the packages under it. When they see a house lit up or the snow falling.
Though as adults we are often on the other side of that wonder—putting up the lights and ornaments, paying for and wrapping those presents, footing that electric bill or shoveling that snow, I hope we never lose our sense of wonder. Not only for the beauty of the season but more importantly for the reason for the season and the awesome God responsible for all of it.
The Bible, and in particular the Psalms, is filled with verses about the wonder we should have for our awesome God. Here are just a few. Read, reflect, and rejoice . . . and never lose your sense of wonder.
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. (Psalm 65:8, NIV)
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (Psalm 19:1, NIV)
“Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? (Exodus 15:11, ESV)
Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! (Psalm 33:8, ESV)
And then, of course, the night of our Savior’s birth.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:9-14, NIV)
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6
Jody Eileen Solinski spent her career teaching in the California public school system where she enjoyed helping young adults take their place in society. A native Californian, she enjoys the outdoors and so loves living in Northern California where she can enjoy the beauty of God’s creation up close.