It’s always interesting for me to see how children respond to department store Santas… especially the younger ones. They respond sometimes with tears, other times with curiosity, and sometimes with terror in their faces! The braver kids will still work the camera for Mom and Dad and smile, but many I think are put off by the large man in the red suit and the fuzzy white beard.
But what would happen, I wonder, if we could take off Santa’s cap; pull off the white beard… and underneath the Santa costume is THEIR DADDY? The looks of terror would turn to squeals of joy; the feelings of angst would turn to comfort as they look into their father’s face; the strange man is now a familiar presence and not an alien one.
Something like that happens to us when we realize that, as “a child is born to us and a son is given, ” certain aspects of God that may be terrifying and off-putting and anxiety-producing now become familiar, peaceful, and joyful for us. That is why God gave His Son. That is why “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” That is why our Savior came… not in the terrifying garb of an angry God, but in the peaceful sounds of a newborn baby.
And that is why Emmanuel had to come. We would never have understood God otherwise! We would never have wanted to. But now, we can draw near to Him. Now, we can look into the face of our Savior and see the Father. Now we can truly be in God’s presence without terror and cleansed from our guilt without shame. Now we can come home.
And isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given….and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:16-17)
FOR REFLECTION: When did God become a comforting Presence for you, and not a troubling one?