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What are we really celebrating?

There’s something magical this time of year, even for those who don’t believe in Jesus. Christmas stirs something within all of us. We anticipate its arrival, celebrate its coming, and when it’s gone we are left feeling hollow.

Sure, it’s about the memories we make and gifts we give. But that wonderful feeling deep within calls to something stronger, something higher. Could it be the savior?

The world has gone to great lengths to remove Christ from his holiday. Courts have ruled against displaying nativity scenes. Santa is the hero now, not Christ.

The world is longing for joy this time of year. People will search for it in boxes full of toys, overflowing dinner tables, a fat man in a red suit and precious time spent with family. They will find a glimmer of it, a moment when all seems right. But it will be fleeting. They are longing for the hope and joy that Christ brings, even if they don’t realize it. 

They may be distracted by the trappings of this season, but that longing will remain after the tree is gone, the twinkling lights have dimmed and life as normal returns. It will be the magic of Christ they miss.

The supernatural power of Christmas was there long before Santa and his reindeer. Think of Christ’s story and just how absurd it sounds. A baby born of a virgin in a manger. God in the form of a helpless, crying newborn. God himself coming down to earth to live among his creation. It gets more unbelievable. God becoming the ultimate servant, even dying in place of humanity in order to save it. Then, overcoming death.

There’s more magic there than Santa could ever dream of. And it’s this supernatural power that draws us to Christmas, and hopefully, the savior.

So what are we really celebrating this season? It’s not the commercialized spectacle the holiday has become. It’s not the time with family or the time off from work.

We are celebrating the moment when God became human in order to save us. His birth is the most significant event in all of history. It’s the arrival of Emmanuel — God with us.

He could have come as a powerful deity demanding to be worshipped. He could have come as a mystical being or as a sun or moon. But he came as one of us. And he came on a mission to rescue his people.

That’s what we celebrate.

This column first published in 2016.

Publisher Luke Horton can be reached at luke.horton@dailyleader.com.