Joy to the World, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And Heaven and nature sing
No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found
Christmas is not just a religious festival that we Christians observe. In all that we do in the presence of non-believers, we are making cosmic claims, and we believe them to be true. Put another way, the celebration of Christmas presents a challenge to all the historians and thinkers who want to reckon without Christ, who want to interpret what is going on around them without reference to Him.
But the Bible teaches us the meaning of history. What is it all about? In what context should we seek to understand the Crusades, the Age of Exploration, the Reformation, the Colonial Period, the Industrial Revolution, the War Between the States, and the first moon landing? What is the basic context of all of this? What are we doing here?
The history of the world cannot be understood apart from the history of the kingdom of God. History must be organized with reference to the Church, the center of the kingdom of God. And what is the kingdom of God like? We have it on reliable authority that the kingdom of God is like a certain king who arranged a wedding for his son (Mt 22:2). There it is. The history of the world, and of our nation, is like wedding preparations.
Sometimes chaotic, sometimes disorganized, but with joy driving it all, the wedding day approaches.
At first, we know nothing of it, but then the invitations go out. The Lord Jesus is born of a Virgin and arrives among us. He proclaims the truth and a handful starts to get ready. He pays the dowry in His own blood, and more begin preparing themselves. The Spirit is poured out, and we realize that the banquet is intended to include all men. The preparations will be far more extensive than we first thought, and so we get to it.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the preparations that we forget the wedding, and we lose our place. In such times, it is good to get out the invitation and look at it again. That is what we are doing every Christmas. Unto us a Son is given.
*Our Father and most gracious God, we are grateful that You have invited us to this wedding. We pray that we would labor faithfully in preparing for the celebration and that when we arrive at that day, we will be dressed in the kind of wedding garment that only You can give. We are grateful for the perfect and sinless life that Jesus lived, and for how that life began at Christmas, and how it was all lived for us, and on our behalf. We are so grateful, and we pray to You now in the name of Jesus, and amen.*
– Douglas Wilson
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
Yes, Mary knew.