This is a guest post for this series by my dad, Tim Hoak …
There is often a lot of talk during this season about the wonder of Christmas. What that usually means is the decorations and lights and trees and glitter and parties and good will and the right music and family and friends and just the right gift (how did you know??) and spectacular Christmas specials and endless Hallmark Christmas movies and that unexpected blanket of soft snow on Christmas morning and the glow of candles and bright, expectant children’s faces when they see the presents under the tree and the watching of It’s a Wonderful Life for the umpteenth time and the food – oh, the food! And the winter wonderland neighborhoods sparkling with more lights than you can count and the wonder of Alabama not making the college football playoffs, and the sweet sounds of children singing in their church or school Christmas programs and … you get the idea.
But the real wonder of Christmas has nothing to do with those kinds of things, as wonderful and enjoyable as they are. The wonder of Christmas, once you get past the sky splitting open with angels and wise men being guided by a star, has no remote resemblance to anything we would classify as wonder.
It looks more like poverty. It smells like a stable. It’s being hunted by Herod and fleeing to a foreign country. It’s living in a no-account town out of which nothing good has ever come. It’s being misunderstood and maligned and falsely accused and relentlessly badgered and finally rejected and abused and slapped and spit upon and whipped and stripped and nailed to a cross to die.
That and more ought to drop our jaws and widen our eyes in wonder because it happened to the Son of God so that the likes of us might be rescued not only from the wrath of God, but from the delusion of thinking that the wonder of Christmas is as shallow as an inch of snow or as thin as a piece of wrapping paper.
The wonder of Christmas is nothing less than the incarnation of the Son of God so that sinners – yes sinners – might begin to reflect something of the glory of God in a dark and broken world. The wonder of the incarnation is seen in lives that have been changed forever. It is seen in visiting the fatherless and widows. It is seen in a child’s bedroom where a father pours out his heart in prayer to God for the conversion of his sleeping child. It is seen in a mother’s clinging to Jesus when her heart is breaking over the loss of her infant. It is seen in taking the Gospel to the local homeless shelter week after week.
And it is seen in a thousand other ways and places where the message of the Gospel has come. So, the real wonder of Christmas is the glory and power and beauty of the Gospel because without Christmas, there would simply be no wonder at all.