Good Will Towards Men

So, Christmas happened.

Our makeshift Advent wreath looks a little different than it did at the end of November. The fourth Advent candle had a faulty wick, so the Advent 4 candle was a pillar from a previous year. But I think it still achieved that tiered effect I love so much, that says Advent is done.

What follows is a sermonette that kept bouncing around in my head all Advent, and really came home during our Christmas trip home. It isn’t too long, but for those of you just here for the pictures, keep scrolling!

* * *

This Christmas season, I keep being struck by that phrase. “Good will towards men.”

I think about the sweeping history of religion, of humanity’s tentative relationship with the guessed-at gods, offering sacrifices, explaining the seasons by attributing fickle personalities to the deities. About how they weren’t even sure that the gods were really good, let alone that they had much interest in being good to puny humans. I think about the Old Testament, of God’s faithfulness to his people, even to the family of David, and how humans kept screwing things up over and over again. To the point that the only way God could get his people’s attention was to take away their very nationhood, and not really give it back to them. To cut down the great tree to make room for a new shoot.

I think about the deep sense of insecurity that some of us have toward the divine. About how we could say, “well, I’m a good person,” but deep down always feel not quite good enough. I think about how quick we are to judge and shame each other, for everything from parenting choices to clothing choices… probably because of how quick we are to judge and shame ourselves.

And then I think about shepherds on a hill, confronted with a host of angels. Those angels had news.

Guess what: God has good will toward humanity. The God of the Jews, the unchanging, omnipotent, only-wise, entirely good God – despite all our lostness – has good will toward us. He is deeply invested in our future. In our success at becoming… well, at becoming humans. In our overcoming all the bent-ness and brokenness that separates us from him and from each other, to his glory and the good of all creation.

In all the history of the Bible, nothing proved that good will like the incarnation. Like God sending his son – the fully-divine person, one with God the Father in being, through whom creation happened – to become one of us. God becoming a human was only possible because God has always had good will toward us. Because he created us in his image and likeness, even though we’re fundamentally different kinds of being than he is.

With Jesus here, there’s no more guessing. God became a human, just like you. God knows what it’s like to be you, fleshly struggles and all. God is invested in you, and will stop at nothing to rescue you. God doesn’t give up on you ’till you’re dead. He is worthy of our fear, and fear of him is the beginning of wisdom… but we don’t have to be afraid. The mercy seat overflows with grace, and we can approach God with confidence. Because he became one of us.

* * *

And now, a smattering of our Christmas.

N skips the gifts entirely and spends the whole morning trying to just get time playing with Didi’s old train set.

“Mo’nin’ Dada!”

New socks from Didi.

Osborn family tradition: a candle in the breakfast shtollen, and singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus.

One of many, many doses of sugar this week. Also, Em has the best knitting bag. Also, can’t believe my daughter can identify a narwhal.

I hope yours was lovely. That you experienced a wealth of gospel grace, both given and received, incarnate in your family.

(Nope, no 12 days of Christmas posts this year. Was just too much. Hang in there, though; I’ll show you what all that stealth knitting was!)

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