The Lexus commercials tell us it’s not really Christmas until we receive a brand new car with big red bow on top. That’s the dream gift we all want, right?
We like to think of Christmas as a dream come true when really it started it out with a nightmare.
An angel appears to offer Mary the good news – she’s been chosen by God to carry His child into the world.
Mary’s reaction is not one of a sublime dream. Luke tells us Mary was “deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be.”
It’s not the only time in the Bible we see the presence of God as troubling. We think the appearance of God is supposed to be a wonderful, pleasant revelation. Time after time the voice of God is described as frightening.
In fact, just a few paragraphs later Luke describes a group of shepherds hearing God’s voice as being “terrified”.
The angel’s appearance does not bring peace on earth, not at first; it brings unrest.
The presence of God is overwhelming and scary. It’s more like a nightmare at first than a dream.
As we celebrate the Savior’s arrival this year, there continues to be unrest in the world. There is pain, chaos, confusion, racism, war. We feel unease singing “Joy To The World” when the sirens blare outside our window.
I think there’s still unrest in the world today because Christmas is not about immediate wish fulfillment.
Perhaps that’s why God chose to send our savior in the form of a baby – to teach us about patience in the face of turmoil.
He announces the arrival of a rescuer. Then the mother and the world wait 9 long months enduring the pains of pregnancy until the child arrives. Even then we must wait for the child to become a man before he begins his work in the world.
If your dreams have not come true yet this Christmas, take heart. For God’s greatest plans often begin with something which makes us scared – an inciting incident which seems terrifying at first and call us to action.
Then, if we have enough faith we set foot on a journey. It’s a journey we’re scared of but one God equips us for. Along the way we gain confidence to face down the things which frighten us and do battle against the nightmares.
When we reach the end, the place where dreams come true, we’re not greeted with a car with a shiny red bow. Instead, we’re welcomed into the arms of the one who calls us Beloved, shaped into the people He created us to be because of the experiences we overcame.
And as we fall into His arms He whispers in our ear, “Well done,” and never lets us go.