The Christmas season is a time when a lot of people are trying to tell us what is important and valuable. They put up Christmas trees in October. They started playing Christmas music in November. We are inundated by those who say… Our laptops are out of date. Our clothes are old fashioned. Our friends and family would love us more if we bought them better (and more expensive) stuff for Christmas.

This isn’t just another rant on the evils of the commercialism of Christmas.

I actually pray for the tired, bedraggled and anxious merchants at Christmas. This is the time when they make it or break it. There are many small businesses that will or will not exist after Christmas based solely on how well they do right now. If the stores don’t make it, there will be a lot of people out of jobs. And that could affect the economy in a major and negative way. So…you go, merchants!

The birth of Christ was so different than what we normally experience in almost every area of our lives. It isn’t that commercialization is wrong. It’s just so different than what God had in mind that first Christmas.

We are so busy. It’s not just at Christmas. It’s all the time. Everybody has an angle, a product to sell or a vision from God to change the world. It’s important that… We win elections. We are beautiful. We smell good. Others like us. We buy the right stocks. We read the right books. We think the right things.

I get so caught up in all of this. When I pause and be still for a moment to think about Christmas, it is like going into a safe and quiet harbor in the midst of a hurricane.

It’s about grace.

The grace of quietness.

In the midst of a very noisy, loud and harsh world, those who whisper are welcomed. That’s what God did at Christmas. He whispered. “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).

God could have scared the spit out of us. He is big enough to do that and, in fact, does sometimes. But at Christmas there was no manipulation, no shouting and no harshness. A baby? Those who shout may not even know what is important. In order to know, you have to be still and listen to the whisper.

The grace of obscurity.

“And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah…from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel” (Matthew 2:6).

Bethlehem? Judah? What of any importance could ever come out of such a small place in such an obscure country? And yet, God does big things in little places. In fact, the most important thing God ever did for us was done in a place that most of the world felt was unimportant.

The grace of helplessness.

“Who has believed what they heard from us?...For he grew up before him like a young plant…he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not….But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:1-5).

Helpless people are unimportant. They’re nobodies, right?

Wrong. The most helpless person who ever lived (a helpless nobody by choice) “became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Quiet, obscure and helpless. Kind of runs against the grain of what they’re telling us, doesn’t it?

This Christmas be still and remember that what is really important came to us from the quiet obscurity of helplessness. We are forgiven and free—and that forever—because of Christmas.

It’s called love. Love came down at Christmas. 

It’s when God said, I love you. Is that okay?