The Christmas Thread
Nov 30, 2018 · Courtney Jacob
The Christmas story is well-loved among believers, and it is with great joy that we tell and retell it each Christmas. With fondness, many of us turn to the familiar pages of Luke or Matthew 1-2 and read aloud from the family Bible. Others don costumes for Sunday School plays or living Nativity experiences. These familiar traditions allow us to remember the reason we celebrate: “A Savior has been born to you” (Luke 2:11).
But did you know the Bible foreshadows the Christmas story even in the earliest pages of Genesis or that Revelation retells the Christmas story with vivid imagery? Like a single thread woven through a garment, the promise of Christmas is woven through all of scripture. Join us as we follow the promise of Christmas from Genesis to Revelation this Advent season in our Groundwork series, “The Christmas Thread.” Together, we’ll broaden our perspective on Christmas by following the thread of its promise from Genesis through the Psalms and Prophets to Revelation.
It might seem odd to study Christmas by looking at scriptures from outside the gospels, but it’s actually quite consistent with our belief that the whole Bible is telling one grand story of God’s love and redemption. The Bible may contain numerous books and stories within it, but together they have one consistent story arc and purpose. It is “one richly textured story of God’s loving purpose in relation to humans and the whole creation.”
The Christmas story is about so much more than a newborn baby or a manger, it’s about why Jesus came and what his coming accomplishes. It’s about God’s plan for salvation. And like sunlight through a prism, looking at the Christmas story through the lens of other parts of scripture we discover new ways to marvel at God’s gift of love, grace, and mercy. Such study expands our appreciation for who God is, the cost of his plan, and his great love for us. It offers us a fresh perspective on the familiar Christmas story and reminds us of the place and purpose Christ’s birth has in God’s whole gospel story, giving us a continually greater appreciation for God’s desire to dwell with and be in a relationship with his people.
In many Christian traditions, the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas are designated as the season of Advent: a time of waiting, longing, and expectation. Advent can sometimes be difficult for the modern believer to engage. Thanks to conveniences like 2-day shipping, “skip the line” online order pick up, and pre-cooked meals, waiting is not a habit we need to regularly practice. Furthermore, how do we wait for something that happened in the past?
Studying the Christmas promise from the perspective of Genesis, the Psalms, and the Prophets can aid and inform our experience of waiting. As we observe how Abraham and Sarah waited for God to give them an heir or how the prophets waited for the promised Messiah, we witness their hope, hoped rooted in God’s promise of a Savior whose birth they anticipated and we can celebrate.
In her book The Spirit of Advent: The Meaning is in the Waiting, Paula Gooder writes,
“As is often the case with the festivals of the church’s year, in Advent we are invited into a deeper, truer encounter with ourselves, with the world, and, most of all, with God. Although learning the lessons of the season will help us to celebrate the season better, even more important is the fact that they polish our skills, sharpen our insight, and deepen our walk with God in such a way that the whole of our life is affected” (p 10).
Go Deeper This Christmas
Let your desire to grow in relationship with God guide you deeper into his Word this Christmas. I invite you to trace the thread of God’s promise of a Savior with us through our Groundwork series “The Christmas Thread”:
- A Savior Foretold—Genesis 3:14-15
- Joy to the World—Psalm 98, Psalm 96, Psalm 72
- The Covenant Fulfilled—Ezekiel 16:59-60, Luke 22:19-20, Hebrews 8:7-10
- Christmas Remixed—Revelation 12
...and together we’ll deepen our appreciation for the immense gift of salvation God initiated when his son Jesus Christ was born, and God dwelled among us.