I was once told of a man who, over the course of his life, had risen from poverty to riches. He had grown up in the most difficult of circumstances, in a setting in which his parents could barely provide for even his most basic needs. But as he came into adulthood, he proved to be a man of unusual talent and founded a business that eventually thrived and made him exceptionally wealthy.
And while this man was willing to enjoy the fruit of his wealth, he wanted to make sure he would never forget his roots. So for that reason he would make an annual pilgrimage from his great mansion in the city to a little house in the village he grew up in. He would stay there for a time to remember what it was like to live without servants, to fetch water from a well, to shiver through long winter nights. And having completed his little pilgrimage, he would return home thankful, not taking his wealth for granted.
This man understood a universal temptation—the temptation to forget our blessings and to forget the God who has so graciously dispensed them to us. And this is exactly why Christmas is so needful and so precious, for at Christmas we pause to deliberately remember. We pause for a day to remember the greatest of all blessings—the advent of Jesus Christ.
In celebrating Christmas we remember—we mark, we recall, we memorialize—the miracle of God becoming man. We remember that the God who made this world was willing to enter into this world, that the God who was immortal was willing to take on mortality, that the God who had existed eternally and omnipresently was willing to be born at a particular moment in time and in a particular point in space. Remaining what he was, he became what he was not so that by becoming what we are, he could make us what he is. Because of his obedience we are counted obedient; because of his death and resurrection we are counted dead to sin and alive to righteousness. By the Son we become sons. We are given the greatest of all gifts, we receive the greatest of all mercies.
Yet we are prone to forget all of this. We are prone to forget our poverty, our need, our desperation, our condemnation. We are prone to forget where we came from, prone to forget what God drew us out of. And so we circle a date on the calendar to ensure we never forget and always remember the coming of the One who was the son of God and the son of Mary, the coming of the God-man through whom we have salvation. We remember so our minds will not grow hazy and we remember so our hearts will not grow cold. We remember to recount the facts and we remember to rekindle our worship.
And so as Christmas Eve gives way to Christmas Day, as we enjoy the sweet rituals of giving and receiving, gathering and feasting, let’s be sure we take time to remember and rejoice—to remember our poverty and to rejoice in our riches. For it was on this day so many years ago that God opened up the storehouses of his mercies and began to pour them out in wondrous abundance upon the likes of you and me.