Every since I was a little kid, I have loved Christmas. Like, at a hyperactive level. Each morning in December, I used to run down the stairs first thing in order to move the Advent calendar to the next day. When the movie Elf was released in 2003, one of the good friends at the time told me that Elf reminded them of me.
I’ll take that as a compliment.
But honestly, I was most excited about the presents, the incandescent lighting, the decorations, and that tin box full of sugar cookies. The real meaning of Christmas, as we often hear, gets lost, and looking back as a young teenager, it was awfully hard not to be distracted by all the other Christmas “stuff”.
When we hear about Christmas in church, we hear alot of “God with us”, and that is true, but what does that mean to us today? More important, why should this matter to teenagers?
The author of the gospel of John doesn’t talk about Mary, Joseph, the wise men, or the shepherds. As John often does, he attempts to display a different angle on our Christology. Instead of beginning his gospel in a literal fashion, he does so in a philosophical and theological manner:
In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. 4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
Jesus’ birth occurred for a host of reasons, one of which was to bring “his life (that) brought light to everyone”. This life and light that Jesus brings is undefeated, inextinguishable.
The Incarnation is a powerful mystery in its origin and reality, and yet it is accessible to all humans at the same time.
God came to be with us so that God could live IN us. The good news of the Incarnation is that, through the new birth of the Holy Spirit, we can not just “go to heaven when we die”, but actually become like Christ here on earth, (hopefully) bringing light and life to all WE encounter as well. The Christmas story is indeed a gift to receive, but it is equally important as a gift to share.
May you experience this new birth for yourself this holiday season. Let us encourage our teenagers to do the same.
Clark Chilton is a student ministries pastor from Clemmons NC.