Dear Baby Jesus,
Just over two thousand years ago you came. You came to be one of us. To be like us. We were created in your image (though we had soiled and tarnished it beyond recognition) and now, you had taken on ours. And you came for us ... you did it all for us.
You left the throne of Heaven to be placed, on a cold dark night, into a manger. You stepped off of the streets of gold onto the sod of earth. You chose swaddling cloth over lily white, shining robes of splendor. You left the right hand of the Father to be placed into the young, inexperienced arms of a mama. You brought your perfection into our filth and your innocence into our pit of sin. You did it all for us.
On a still silent night (although, with a young girl in labor I seriously doubt it was all THAT silent) you took your first earthly breath and let out your first sweet cry. Joseph's were probably the first arms that held you. Joseph, who had listened to your angel and risked it all to stand beside Mary and claim you as his own. Joseph, who would go to great lengths to protect you. Joseph, who loved you and would let you call him daddy, knowing he was not your real Father. You probably wriggled into his arms and cried as the cold night air blew against the skin that had just been warm inside Mary's womb. And you cried a holy, human cry that flooded the night. And you did it all for us.
Then Joseph probably placed you in the arms of your mama. Mary ... sweet, YOUNG Mary. How old was she? Was she really just a young teenager? How much did she know? Did she know where your road would lead? If she had not studied the Scriptures BEFORE she conceived you, she most certainly did once she knew she was carrying the Messiah. Did she know that the child in her arms, the child she had just delivered, would be the deliverer of all who would believe? Did she know that you had been there since the beginning and had created HER long before she created you? Did she know that you did it all for us?
And the shepherds? They surely had no clue what was to come. They were just doing their job when their calm night was interrupted with a Holy light and a commanding presence of Heavenly Hosts. Angels, who were created to follow your every command, had come to announce your coming and bring your good news. They could have interrupted someone of royal blood in a warm castle and sent THEM to you, but they came to shepherds. Dirty shepherds, leading dirty sheep and caring for them ... and they were sent to YOU. The one who is the Good Shepherd. But, they followed the angels direction and brought their filth and noise and their worship to your birthplace. You came to the lowly and meek ... and you did it all for us.
You could have been born in a palace. You could have just come as a king. You could have commanded the world to fall at your feet and follow and believe. You had the power to give us no choice at all, but you had the LOVE to give us the choice anyway. You let us decide if we will follow you, believe in you, LOVE you. You knew that there would be some who chose the other. And yet, still, you did it all for us.
You came as a baby in a manger, fled that place for the safety of a foreign land as Joseph protected you, grew up in a small town, studied at the feet of those who studied the scriptures YOU had written, grew in stature and favor and became a man. A man who would take the good news as far and wide as his human frame would allow. A man who would heal the sick, give sight to the blind, voice to the mute, hearing to the deaf, legs to the lame, life to the dead and HOPE to the hopeless ... and, before you, weren't we ALL hopeless? You walked the dirty soil of our world, among the dirty souls of your people and you did all without sin or blame or guilt. And then ... then ... then you took the sin of which you were completely innocent and placed it on yourself like a worn, soiled garment and took it to the cross ... and you did it all for us.
You took our blame and our sin, the wages of which are death, and you proclaimed yourself guilty so that WE could be innocent. You died on a rugged wooden cross, they placed you in a dark cold tomb, the door to which was sealed and left you there to rot, thinking that it was the end. But, really, wasn't it just the beginning. Because then ... THEN ... then, three days later, when all hope had been lost, you burst through with the glorious light of day, breaking the greatest darkness the world had ever known and brought the greatest hope the world could ever imagine. You left behind the grave and the death it stood for and brought new life. And not just new life for YOU, you brought new life for US. For anyone who would believe, anyone who would place their trust in you, anyone who would lay their sin at your feet to be forgiven, anyone who would bring their broken lives and their certain death to you. And You would take it all ... you DID take it all ... and exchange it all for life. Life in You. Life everlasting. Life ... LIFE ... LIFE! And you did it all for us.
And so today, so many years later, we celebrate Your birthday. Some have made it a big commercial festival of lights and decorations and fat jolly men in ridiculous red suits being led around by a reindeer with an ever more ridiculous red nose - and that is all fun and good. But those that know ... those that know YOU ... know that it is so much more. Tomorrow we will open presents - but the real gift is YOU. We will spend time with the ones that we love - but the real love comes from YOU. We will eat a feast set at a beautiful table - but the bread of life is YOU. We will celebrate life - but our real life is in YOU. Tomorrow, somehow, we will make it all about us - when it should be all about YOU.
Tonight we will go to church, bow our heads, celebrate your birth and sing songs that exalt You. Tonight we will share the great joy that You bring with everyone we meet. Tonight we will feel that warmth in our heart that only comes on Christmas eve when we make it all about You. And we will do it all for You.
But, when I think of all that You have done for us, I wonder why we give you just one night. And I wonder what I can do to change that. How can I love better? How can I love more. How can I bring the hope of YOU to a lost and hurting world, so in need of all you came to give.
How can I do it all for You?
Teach me Lord Jesus, teach me how.
Let that be my birthday gift to you.
Happy Birthday Baby Jesus ... and thank You for the Gift.