We can feel close to someone far away – it is a God-given gift. The heart, our capacity to love, is untouched by geography. At times, in fact, distance creates a situation only the heart can reach.
At Christmas, we see God moving to touch the world from the most remote of places. Bethlehem is not your Times Square – no one knows what happens in this town. In Hebrew the name literally means ‘House of Bread’ and it is perhaps by its bakery only this place was known.
Out of nowhere, though, God struck each of us. A baby, threatened from the start by powers of this world far stronger, with parents of meager status and means, whose beginning was in a barn – touched us all. When we hear His story our hearts lean in and we want this child to prevail.
Prevail He would.
Politicians and armies would oppose Him. Religious leaders and skeptics put obstacles in His path. Evil summoned its demons to stop His work. Death brought its darkness only to be toppled from its place and see its power lost.
Is it, though, His power that draws us to Him? Maybe for some it is, but I doubt this is the case. The story of Jesus draws us because it touches our hearts – even when we feel far away. When it comes to what we love the truth is it is always oh so close.
Jesus draws us because He is a story of the power of the heart. He loved. He loved those called dirty. He loved those who felt lost. He loved God and friend and neighbor – and did so in a way that drew no distinction between them. In the lost and friend and neighbor He saw God and loved each the same.
At its core, Jesus is a story of love and all that threatens it. Because of this, the story of Jesus is one we all know. We know what it is to see love begin, struggle, and then prevail. Christmas is where we celebrate that in the end, what remains, is love.
The Bible refers to this idea over and over. We want to think of Jesus as a plan, part of God’s process to redeem the world. This, while technically true, is an incomplete thought at best. The gospel of John hits the mark –
For God so loved the world He gave his only Son – John 3:16
Jesus is a love story which makes Christmas have a geography all its own. No matter where you are today, God is close at hand. Open your heart and you will find Him already there.
(thanks for reading, if you found Jesus in this please comment and share)