The gift of nearness.
The Christmas story is like a dinner party, with a really ambitious host.
This really ambitious host pulled out all the stops for this one. He bought the food, paid for the wine, and carefully chose every detail in the decor. But, the guest list, that was the most important thing of all. He spent hours agonizing over each person who would be their. He placed name tags on every tables, hand written, and perfectly positioned. Each person in the room was valuable to him, for different reasons, and he wanted them to experience the party uniquely. So he positioned them intentionally and carefully, for their own good, for their own security, for their own sense of comfort, that they might enjoy their evening unhindered, free, and in all ways, how he designed it.
He made party favors, filled with things only he could give away, things only he had access to, but things that everyone at that party needed. In order to ensure that he got to personally connect with every one of his guests he decided that he wanted give the party favors away personally throughout the night, that way he would connect intimately with each guest.
He wanted to look into their eyes, thank each one of them for coming, with sincerity. His greatest fear was that someone might leave that party, not knowing how excited he was that they came. Or, that they might leave wondering if he even knew they were there.
As the party begins, and the room starts to fill up, The host is standing at one end of the room. He is looking around at what he has created, and he loves it. He loves watching his guests interact with one another. He loves watching them enjoy the good food, and the delicious drinks. Most of all he loves watching them enjoy one another. The party is perfect, its exactly what he imagined. Even better.
As the evening wears on, he begins to make his way around the room to really start connecting with people and handing out his party favors. He tries on occasion to jump into the conversations people are having, to engage with his guests, to let them know he is there, and that he would love for them to know the lengths he went to to make there evening great.
But its loud. Its crowded, and its seems to be really chaotic. Every one has become very distracted by all the amazing things he has done. Small talk, more to drink, more small talk, and even more to drink. Throughout the evening it just keeps getting louder, and there seems to be less and less opportunity for him to actually connect with any of His guests.
He is frustrated, but still very much on a mission.
“My guests will know why they are here. I will make sure of it.” he thinks to himself.
In the latter hours of the party, things have just gotten out of control. Every last guest is hammered drunk, and by this time, no one has much of any sense of why they were there to begin with. Some people begin leaving, stumbling out the door. He runs to try and catch them before they do, but its too late, they disappear into the snowy night.
He thinks to himself… “Are people really going to come here, eat my food, drink my wine, and leave never knowing the real purpose for the party? Not knowing what I had to offer them if they would have just acknowledged my presence?”
His heart breaks with every slam of the door, signifying another guest leaving in anonymity. Without the amazing gifts he so carefully prepared.
As the chaos of “the end” begins to take over, He feels he is losing control. Like if he doesn’t do something big, loud, and significant, everyone will just leave, and miss out on the very purpose of the party.
The more people leave, the more his sense of urgency rises, along with his blood pressure. He just wants them to know why He invited them… but they are too busy finding their coats, too drunk to be aware of his presence, and too selfish to see that there is more…
The urgency of the moment finally catches up with Him, and with all the emotion he can muster the host yells out as loud as he possibly can…
WAIT!!!! YOU HAVE ALL MISSED SOMETHING!
I AM HERE! I INVITED YOU BECAUSE I WANTED TO GET TO KNOW YOU. I BROUGHT YOU HERE TO EXPERIENCE MY PRESENCE, MY PERSON, MY NEARNESS
YOU ARE ALL MISSING IT!
Friends, this is the Christmas story.
God is, and has been present in this world from the beginning. His desire was always, that we might know him personally and experience Him intimately. Yet we, as people have grown distracted.
He wanted to get our attention. He wanted to make a splash, to have an impact. He wanted to change the course of history.
And He would.
Yet, instead of yelling and making a scene, instead, God chose to enter the world in total obscurity, humility and irrelevance. It was quiet and soft, it was unnoticed by most, but it paved the way for the greatest story of redemption that would ever be told…
God, creator, and sustainer, entered the world. It didn’t make a huge noise, but it did make a huge impact
God is not indifferent to your struggles
God is not waiting for you to screw up
God is not looking for His chance to smite you
God is not too busy for you
God is personal
God is accessible
God is relentlessly pursuing your heart…
God is near.