The snow is flying as I gaze out the window between scattered thoughts that make their way through my fingers to the laptop screen. It’s hard not to stare with wonder as I watch the white winter witness of God’s faithful, blanketing love that covers the world. Christmas break couldn’t come at a better time, as we all feel ourselves ready for beautiful rest, the welcome distraction of fluttering snowflakes, the change of pace that comes with the holidays, and the traditions we enjoy that come but once a year. And this particular window-watching moment reminds me of the climactic lines of one of my favorite modern poems, “Undivided Attention,” by Taylor Mali: “See, snow falls for the first time every year, and every year / my students rush to the window as if snow were more interesting / than math, which, of course, it is. / So please. /… Let me teach like the first snow, falling.” The poem brilliantly captures every teacher’s hope but also their hardest task, to teach something meaningful and in a way so interesting and worth sharing that students cannot resist being drawn to the window of learning with love and wonder to see the sight. With that poem in my back pocket, and a perfect window with which to feast on the flurries, layers and layers of imagination meet together from multiple spheres of life. Such is the power of beauty internalized, embodied, and experienced, and such is the reason we love teaching at CCA: our faithful God has set the world before us as an invitation to discover wondrous things about Himself.
Few things go better together than “wonder” and “Christmas.” Could there be anything more wonderful than God’s plan to redeem His people through the incarnation, death, burial, and resurrection of His Son? He is our Mighty God, Wonderful, Counselor, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Even the world understands and embraces this reality at some level. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” goes the popular holiday song. Signs and songs, like “Winter Wonderland,” that speak of the season apart from Christ, still get caught up in the idea and can’t escape the association. And is there any greater Christmas classic than “It’s a Wonderful Life” (which some have argued is the greatest Christian movie ever produced)?
Yes, when Jesus Christ came to earth and took on human form, when He set aside His own will, His own place above the cosmos, and His own freedom and power in the heavenlies, He reframed the world as we know it, and He forever reformed our understanding of love. And that is Wonder-full. He also gave us important understated gifts, such as the declaration by example that His material world, the world made through Him from the beginning (Col. 1:16), was indeed good. Even after the fall, Jesus did not despise the human form but clothed himself in flesh like ours in order to redeem and restore us to our intended glory, and now much more so than ever before.
And yet, there’s more. During a holiday in which we celebrate the infinite glory of God in the virgin birth of a tiny baby boy, one of the most surprising gifts Jesus shows us by example is the notion that limits can be a very good thing. Yes, the God of the universe adopted self-imposed limits to His eternal person. Author Justin Whitmel Earley remarks in his recently released book, Habits of the Household: Practicing the Story of God in Everyday Family Rhythms: “In the American story [of popular culture], limits are bad….But in the story of God, limits are the way to the good life, even the way of happiness. We know this because Jesus took on the limits of being a man, disciplining himself into a life of sacrifice–why? So that we could be free from the ultimate limitation of sin and death” (97). In Philippians, the Apostle Paul tells us that Jesus, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-8, ESV).
As in all things, we can certainly misuse limits; but we very often find ourselves pushing against them even when they are meant for our good. Sometimes, God closes doors, slows things down, or simply tells us “No” because He loves us so much that He is willing to limit us in ways that don’t make sense to us at the time. We can’t create time. We can’t be in two places at once. We can’t make new hearts. We can’t save ourselves. We can’t, we can’t, we can’t. And yet…”With God, all things are possible,” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” and “For freedom, Christ has set us free.”
At Christmas, Jesus took on our limits of finitude, sin, and death so that we could one day take on His limitless life. He affirmed the wisdom of God and even endured suffering to bring meaning to our own afflictions. Now, we imitate Him. Now we endure with Him. Now, we sing praises to Him. Is there anything more wonderful than this?
In that spirit, we want to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thank you for celebrating with us at our Christmas Concert and Ball last Friday. Words can’t describe the joy it was to join young and old, students, staff, and parents alike, in singing and dancing together to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the center, and we give thanks for His care for us at CCA. To hear children raising their voices through time-cherished hymns and songs of our faith reminded us again in the most powerful way that Jesus loves the little children, and He loves to have His praises on their lips. Thank you for helping us make this event such a glad occasion.
We look forward to seeing you in the new year, and we praise the Lord for His blessings through you! May your days be merry and bright not just because your Christmas is white, but because Jesus is the Light!