Something was missing. And even my niece's excitement, or her rearranging my nativity set so that everyone is worshiping baby Jesus, "because that's what Christmas is about, auntie," wasn't helping me. To be honest I was tired of it all, and in the midst of my tiredness, I was missing why we were doing this thing.
Then I went to church on Dec 23 - not a Christmas Eve service yet, our regular weekend services. Except it wasn't - at least not for me. Something clicked as we sang the familiar songs, as I listened to the message, as we took communion together. The rest of the story doesn't happen without Christmas.
Sure, God could have found a different way to start His rescue story. But, He didn't. He chose to send His Son to earth to live and die for us. So, the cross and the resurrection started here. The story begins at Christmas with a baby in a manger.
At our Christmas Eve service, I was struck by the words of these familiar songs. We sing them every year, and I know I often have without realizing how they point to the mission of rescue Jesus was on for His life on earth. They speak of the freedom He was coming to bring. Of the healing He is bringing. They speak of the hope that was held in the birth of this child.
And so I'm reminded again of the importance of what we celebrate today. Christmas was the start of God's rescue plan for His creation. We often and easily see the cross and the resurrection as God's rescue plan, but Christmas was where the plan was launched. The birth of the Savior as a baby.