Reflecting on Christmas Post 1

The year was 1986 when I opened up my favorite childhood toy – it was the Transformer Optimus Prime. I opened up the next box and it was Megatron. Then my relatives showed up and I got Bumblebee, Starscream, Shockwave (the Decepticon cassette player) and Mirage (he was the race car who could become invisible). Those were the days.  But before you think I was an extremely spoiled kid, here’s a good time to insert that my birthday is Christmas Eve (it’s pretty much the cleft palate of birthdays but to date, there is no corrective surgery). Double presents was the only redeeming thing about this day. Anyway, my mom had called my aunts and they coordinated the presents. it was the most organized middle-eastern execution of any idea to date. I’m not kidding.

Christmas seemed to suck each year after that. Because my parents are terrible liars, I knew the truth about Santa from an early age. So when you stop enjoying toys and you can’t eat candy canes because your dad is a dentist, Christmas becomes a real long Church Cantata service that you are required to go to on your birthday. Being a smart kid growing up in the Back to the Future era, I started requesting a DeLorean time machine to take me back to 1986.

Throughout my teen years, Christmas became among the many times that I really tried to connect with my faith. Combined with being blessed with a great family, it really was my favorite time of year although it had changed so much. Then in college, I enjoyed it even more. Being a religion major, I was gaining a better understanding of its theological significance but it was more because of the family event we created.

The flip side was that I became kinda snobby about all the superficial extras that surrounded Christmas. The tacky lights, drunk Santas, the commercialization, I wanted to kick an elf. I even stopped listening to Christmas music. I knew everyone had Christmas all wrong, I just didn’t know how wrong I had it too.

I enter Christmas time differently these days. For starters, I now call it Advent. And while I can list quite a number of things that I love about the meaning of our Savior’s coming, these days I am most moved by Jesus’ humanity. Not just that he would humble himself and become a defenseless baby, but that he would become human to begin with. Don’t think for a moment that the Sovereign Creator becoming an infant is lost on me, I have two children under the age of two sleeping upstairs and the youngest is about to turn 8 weeks. Some of us could never imagine leaving our part of the country and living in a state say, like West Virginia. Some of us could never live abroad. Imagine leaving heaven to live on this rock of dirt over a population that would painfully reject you and only a few would truly love you and you knew this the whole time.

Here is where the humanity really moves me and I know that I will not be able to adequately describe this. but here’s my best shot.  I cannot imagine the anxiety that Jesus walked around with. Each day moving closer to his death, each day experiencing the trials and ordeals of human life. It’s no wonder that he routinely prays and weeps over Jerusalem and cries over Lazarus. He understands all sides of the pain. This brings me to my favorite part of the celebration. Every so often, you get the pleasure of being the person who brings good news. You get to be the one to encourage people, touch people, maybe even be a part of what brings joy to others. I like to imagine the feeling he had of knowing that he was the embodiment of hope, the hope for you and me, the hope for all of creation. This is among the many gifts of Christmas – that he would come and dwell among us – that He would want to be our Emmanuel.


  1. Happy birthday, Tim! I’ve got that on my calendar now, though it does kinda stick out right in the middle of the whole Christmas season. Can we move it to around Easter or something? That way, you are still interrupting a religious celebration, but won’t mess up any family get-togethers.

    Will that work?

  2. Lol, I remember thinking while in my mother’s womb, “Can I stay in here for another month or two?” But as I recall, my world came down around me and I was brought into these bright lights, cold hands, bad breath. I thought I was dead. As it turned out, they told me that this was my birth. Go figure.

    Thanks for the birthday wishes. Sorry it’s taken me a bit to reply here. All is good though.
    Hope all is well in the Barmer home.

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