By Schulter Etyang
Before my father died, Christmas used to be special to our family. Christmas used to be a great time for us. My father used to come from overseas and bring us new sneakers and clothes. I think we were the first in our small town to wear the Reebok sneakers. Christmas was also time for good food and friends. I still have memories of the smells, the laughter, the visits from friends etc. We used to really have a good time. I loved Christmas.
Christmas changed after my father died. The laughter, celebration, gifts, and friends gradually disappeared. My mother then left for the U.K and Christmas became even worse for us. Most Christmases we were shipped off to the village to be with our grandma. I hated Christmas.
On some occasions, we were at the mercy of our friends. Our childhood pastor filled the gap some of the time. He used to invite us to his home for Christmas meals. But it wasn’t the same after my father passed on. As we grew up, Christmas became less and less important to us. When Christmas came, my brothers and I just had a meal and called it a day. It wasn’t that a big deal for us. It was just another day for us. There was no real celebration and festivity about it. It was just that – another day.
7 years ago, this scripture burst into life
Luke 2:10 NLT
But the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.
This very famous verse used to be “white noise” – noise in the background like low humming machine or the car noises you hear if you live near a highway.
Good news? What do you mean, angel?
Luke 2:11 NLT
The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!
The Savior? Really? You have to be kidding me, right? A king, yes. A leader, yes. A teacher, yes. Until I thought about what the savior came to do. The savior came to save. To save me? Nah, not me. The reason why this scripture was white noise was I hadn’t seen my need of a savior. I wasn’t as bad as some were. I knew I was bad but not that bad. I was a good Christian. I had “served” God my entire life. So yeah, I wasn’t that bad.
The savior came to save
But grace pried open my heart and let me see the depravity of my heart and oh boy I immediately knew why he was good news. More than that, he didn’t just save me once, but saves me every single day.
That’s why Christmas for me has become special. It was the day God identified personally with me. He became like me. He experienced my humanity.
It was also the day God jumped into the stormy waters to rescue me a sinner that was drowning in my sin. A person that is drowning doesn’t need instructions on how to swim. He needs a lifesaver to jump in and rescue them. He came, jumped in and brought me to shore. The late R.C Sproul put it more emphatically and profoundly. He wrote,
God just doesn’t throw a life preserver to a drowning person. He goes to the bottom of the sea, and pulls a corpse from the bottom of the sea, takes him up on the bank, breathes into him the breath of life and makes him alive.
All these years Christmas was a sad, inconsequential day. But when I discovered the good news that Jesus came to save me, Christmas again burst into life. I now enjoy the feeling that Christmas brings. Jesus entered into my sadness and brought joy. He entered into my loneliness and became my friend. He entered into my darkness and became light. The laughter and joy came back. Since I heard the good news, my life has been filled with great joy. Gone are the somber days.
This Christmas I made Jenny a sumptuous meal. We laughed. We ate. We rested. We slept. We called our families and wished them Merry Christmas. We didn’t sing though (Jenny’s fault – her high-pitched voice is best for the shower) We savored who Jesus is, and the good news he brought.
That’s what grace looks like