I’m impressed by the “Jesus is _____” campaign. It’s catchy, it has viral appeal, and what’s more it arrives at the desired result — driving a large discussion about Christ — without imposing a predetermined path to discussion or a forced conclusion. It’s sponsored by some large Protestant churches (the largest being here in Seattle), but despite the relatively narrow view of Christ offered by the sponsored religions the campaign invites large and open discussion and debate about who Jesus is and what he means to us. As the site explains, “So maybe the reality of who Jesus is remains too big for the blank.”
As we reach the peak of Advent and Christmas draws near, my mind is preoccupied with thoughts of the Savior and of his birth (funny how that works. Thinking about Jesus? At Christmas????). I’m amazed at the capacity of Christmas to reinvigorate me with a love of Jesus and with the possibility of redemption. I mean it — I’m absolutely surprised, because each year I feel like I have grown a little colder and more difficult, so the fact that Christmas can roll around and give me this onrush of joy is just amazing. Though Dec. 25th may not be his birthday, I am very glad to celebrate Christ’s birth at this time of year. The skies grow dark — already at 4 p.m. here in Seattle it’s night — and everywhere is cold and dim. Jesus comes to us in this season, the light of the world, and he shows with clarity the reality of love in our lives. I love it when it’s dark outside, when the cold air takes your breath away, but inside is the warmth of the fire and the glow from ornaments and celebrations of Jesus. Perhaps these are nothing more than childhood memories that have nested in my adult psyche, but it’s a form of nostalgia that lightens my spirit and makes me quick to tears and quick to laughter — so who am I to refuse? The possibility of unconditional love and the chance at redemption and change offered by Christ is completely irresistible (especially when served up with kinderpunsch).
Jesus asked the Pharisees, “What think ye of Christ,” a question that confused them — how could David call his son “Lord?”. Jesus could stump all of us if he wanted to. Even his birth is a head-scratcher, full of miraculous event and interesting questions that we probably don’t understand or even want to explore too closely. The grand atonement — the whole purpose behind his birth — is virtually impossible to explain. And yet his power is real. It makes me smile sometimes to think of our very lives depending on a total mystery that relies wholly upon the experiential. So Christmas comes and miraculously I feel myself just letting a sense of joy enter my life despite my confusion and despite my lack of understanding. When I see a bumper sticker or online ad that says, “Jesus is _______”, that’s how I fill in the blank at this time of year. Jesus is many things, and his reality does transcend the blank. But for now, just knowing that Jesus IS will suffice for me. Merry Christmas!