This morning I went for a walk, but instead the usual rows of houses and parked cars lining my path, there was nothing but open fields and the beauty of winter in Saskatchewan. Hoar frost lines the bushes and trees, and here and there patches of bullrushes peek out from the snow. It’s an overcast day, but there is blue sky in the distance. Saskatchewan is the land of living skies. You can see the sky for miles around, and it’s breathtaking.
We’ve arrived at the farm, and it feels so good to spend the day resting and enjoying family. It’s felt like a busy few weeks, getting ready for this, planning for that, ticking things off my oh so precious to do list, but now holidays are here, and it’s time to just rest.
Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. That has a lot to do with the fact that it’s the time of year when you get to spend time with family, and also a lot to do with it being the time of year that there is lots of baking around. My sister and I used to have a rule that the first thing in your mouth on Christmas Day had to be chocolate. An excellent rule, I think. (Feel free to make this a tradition in your house too.) I also love giving presents. I like receiving them, yes, but giving them is much more fun. I love seeing the look on people’s faces when they open a gift you’ve picked specially for them. There is something about it that makes my heart happy.
And of course, because of my faith, this time of year is special for a whole other reason. I’ve been thinking about Christmas in a new light this year. Maybe it’s different for me because since I’ve had a baby, I understand better now how small, and helpless and vulnerable they are. Maybe it’s because of a great book I am reading about the goodness of God (The Good and Beautiful God by Brian Smith). Whatever the reason, I’ve been thinking a lot about the reality of Christmas, of what it means that God had the plan to send his Son to become a man, to bring salvation, long before the angel came to visit Mary.
You see, for me, it’s easy to compartmentalize who God is. I have this vision of the God of the Old Testament, who could be harsh at times, who demanded sacrifices, who, because He is Holy, required certain rites and rituals to be completed in order for His people to follow Him, to be His people. And then I have this view of the New Testament God, who is loving and gracious and sent Jesus to die for me. And sometimes, my perspective of God can really influence the way that I live my life, the way that I interact and approach my relationship with Him, in good ways and bad.
But this year I’ve been reminded that God is the same. He never changes. And I’ve been reminded that from the beginning of time, God knew what was going to happen, and He had a plan to save us. He always had that plan. It wasn’t something new He just randomly thought of one year. He had been foretelling it through His prophets for years and years.
“For to us a Child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be on his shoulders. And he will be called wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
And when I think about that, I realize how good God is, and how much He loves me. And that when I celebrate this time of year, His sending of His son to become a man, to experience the lives we live, so that He could walk blameless through this life, and be the ultimate sacrifice that makes possible a free and open relationship with my Creator, I know that God is experiencing that same joy that I feel when I watch someone I love open a gift I picked specially for them. Because Jesus is the gift He picked specially for me.
So, I will rejoice in this season, in the joy it brings, and join with the angels, declaring:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Merry Christmas, everyone. Rejoice!