Familiarity has the tendency to breed monotony. When we become so accustomed to seeing or hearing the same thing over and over again, we can become indifferent. “Yeah, I’ve heard this over and over again,” we say.
A couple of my children love the group Pentatonix. Specifically, they love their new Christmas album. As a result, they play it over and over and over and over. Though I do enjoy Christmas music, I will have to admit that I’m growing a bit weary of listening to Pentatonix. No doubt, it’s good music. Pentatonix are some great vocalists. But I’m afraid I’ve heard it too much now. The message of the songs is now lost.
I’m afraid that sometimes, the same can be said of the Christmas story. We know it. We’ve heard it. We’ve read it. We have even seen it acted out. And yet it may have become too familiar to some of us. “Oh yeah!” we say, “I know the story.”
In his book The Jesus I Never Knew, Philip Yancey writes:
The facts of Christmas, rhymed in carols, recited by children in church plays, illustrated on cards, have become so familiar that it is easy to miss the message behind the facts.
So what do we do? Well, Yancey tells us what he does.
After reading the birth stories once more, I ask myself, If Jesus came to reveal God to us, then what do I learn about God from that first Christmas?
For Yancey, what he learned shocked him. He writes:
The word associations that come to mind as I ponder that question take me by surprise. Humble, approachable, underdog, courageous–these hardly seem appropriate words to apply to deity.
So as you and I ponder the Christmas story, the story of the Creator becoming the created, what do you learn about God? What do you glimpse of God’s commitment to save us? What do you realize about his love? What shocks you about this story?
As my children continue to play the Pentatonix Christmas album throughout this Christmas season, and most likely, throughout all of 2015, I hope one song in particular does not lose it’s impact on me. True, the tune may grow old, but the message should not. Their remake of Mary, Did You Know? is a great song that reveals much about God becoming man along with the reasons why. It seeks to help us plumb the depths of the Christmas story.
God becoming man is no small thing. Though some of us have heard the story hundreds of times, I pray we don’t become so familiar with it that we forget the miraculous nature of it. Once you truly think about it, I think you will come to realize that it really is the most shocking, wonderful, true, crazy, glorious, and grace-filled story ever told.