I was listening to what is probably my favorite traditional Christmas song, O Holy Night (by Andy Williams – no one does it better!) and its meaning swept over me like a wave. Now, I know what happened Christmas night (John 1:14) – that Jesus was born as God took the form of a man to enter the world for the salvation of mankind. But as I listened to the lyrics something made my eyes open wider and for perhaps the first time, I felt the magnitude of that event.
My mind’s eye took the vantage point of the angels as they must have seen this momentous event unfolded before them – God, (God Himself!) in the person of Jesus Christ came to earth! Imagine what the angels witnessed as they saw the glory of God move from Heaven to earth, in all probability knowing what fate awaited Jesus. God, THE God of the universe – pure love, goodness, glory and holiness moving Himself in the form of His Son from Heaven into His own creation to save His most precious created beings from the fires of Hell. He was destined to sacrifice Himself in hideous fashion on the wooden cross that awaited – wood that was almost certainly already growing in God’s creation, layer by layer in a tree that had sprouted years before Jesus’ own birth.
I was swept away by what the angels must have realized and most assuredly felt – that God’s love was so powerful and so consuming that He was willing to take all of man’s ugly, hurtful rebellion on to Himself and become the physical embodiment of this awful pain and sin to save mankind from their own willful disobedience. It seemed as if I could feel what the angels must have felt as they witnessed how the glory and love of God shaped this moment as He moved into His creation. Imagine the love the angels that must have gathered through all of heaven and swept through the world like a whirlwind as God became earthly flesh. They must have beheld God with an inexplicable pure and reverential awe. My new understanding of Jesus’ birth, this vision I now perceived was of such pure beauty to me that I was moved to tears – the kind of tears that flow from pure joy.
This experience, this realization changed everything – I will approach this Christmas with more reverence and awe than I have heretofore ever held.