The distance between Heaven and Earth is great. It’s God making that long journey from Heaven to Earth that we celebrate at Christmas. Yes, God dwells everywhere, including the furthest reaches of the cosmos some 13 billion light years away, but the distance from the most distant point in the universe to our Earth is nothing compared to God’s journey to join humanity as one of us. The distance from the furthest galaxy to here is measured in light years; the distance God traveled to incarnate Himself as a human is infinite!
God and His Heaven are transcendent in every way compared to this terrestrial ball we call Earth. Holy, holy, holy is He (you need to repeat it three times, the Bible’s method, to even begin to grasp the reality of this attribute of God’s holiness). The Earth? Not at all holy. Sure, from a distance, Earth orbit or beyond, our world looks pristine in its blue, brown, and white colors. Get closer and you see the scars of a fallen, hurting, abused, broken planet of wild weather, disease, death, earthquakes, and more. Get closer yet and you can’t help but observe brokenness between people, people acting badly with each other. Get even closer, into the minds and hearts of each of us, and you’ve reached a new level of brokenness, broken souls.
This unbelievable distance from glorious Heaven to fallen Earth didn’t stop God from leaving Heaven and coming to Earth, taking on human flesh, being born as a human baby! We can’t imagine what the Son of God gave up, leaving the eternally and infinitely close relationship He had in the triune Godhead of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to become one of us, ignored, despised, and forsaken by many. He left a place described as having building materials of gold, jasper, and other fine stones to be born in a barn. He gave up a glorious robe of light to wearing diapers that regularly became soiled. He gave up His cosmic throne for an animal feeding trough that was His cradle. He gave up being surrounded by angels to being surrounded by the animals in the stable and some scruffy shepherds.
This is what we celebrate at Christmas, the long journey God took, a gift of Himself for us. However, there’s another long journey of Christmas. It’s been said that the longest journey is from head to heart. That’s the journey of Christmas we each are asked to take, moving Christmas from head to heart. We know the story, at least most of us do. But making the message meaningful and transformational is another story!
Countless preachers have said at Christmas time that there was no room for Mary and Joseph and the soon-to-be-born Jesus in the inn so He had to be born in a stable. These preachers then have asked, “Will we make room for Him in our heart?” I can do no better than to repeat this frequently asked question. “Will we make room for Him in our heart?” It’s a long journey, from knowing the Christmas story in our minds to embracing it in our hearts, but it’s a journey very much worth the taking!
The apostle Paul wrote of Jesus, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Philippians 2:6-7