”City sidewalks, busy sidewalks Dressed in holiday style In the air there’s a feeling Of Christmas.”
Christmas time is here! It appears that all of NYC is in the Holiday spirit. Everywhere you look, there are decorations and Christmas lights. The Christmas tree in Rockefeller center still draws thousands.
People race to such landmarks as the “Radio City Music Hall” to be part of a Christmas tradition that they have heard about since their youth. But the Holiday spirit doesn’t apply solely to tourist sites. Each neighborhood is decorated with their own peculiar flare. From Washington Heights to the Financial District, Manhattan is aglow.
As I braved 34th street yesterday, I was amazed to see the myriads of shoppers going to buy their last minute gifts. Here excitement is the norm. No one appears to be focusing on the negative, as they gleefully go from store to store. As I walk, I look up toward Macy’s and see one word scrolled on the side of the famous landmark: “Believe.”
Could Macy’s have accidentally gotten the true meaning of Christmas?! If so then this is truly a “Miracle on 34th Street.”
As I continue to walk the streets, I begin to notice some other things. On 20th street in lower Manhattan, I see a drunken man at a bus stop slumped over sitting next to a pool of vomit. “It’s Christmas time in the city.“ I walk past a young girl at Lincoln Center on the Upper West side. She is sitting in the cold with a small sign that reads “I’m a good girl in a bad spot, please help.” I think about the many kids that will be sold into sex slavery on this Island that I call my home. “Soon it will be Christmas day.”
My heart is heavy as I try to balance the “Christmas Cheer” with the brokenness that is all around me. I pray as I think about how I can meet the needs of those hurting around me. “Silver bells” misses the fact that there are many this Christmas that are suffering and vulnerable in this great city. This brokeness is the result of sin. When Adam and Eve defied God’s kingship, the world was broken. With the introduction of sin came suffering and exploitation.
But there is hope. Christ came as a baby. Born as a fully human baby, the Creator became like his creation in every way, but sin. He lived for us perfectly. He obeyed God in every way that we have failed him. As a grown man in his 30s, Jesus suffered the wrath of God in our place. He took our punishment. In essence, He endured “hell” on the cross for you and I. But that is not all. Jesus rose to represent us before the Father. His life and death counts for those that believe in Him. Macy’s is correct. We must “believe.” But the most beautiful thing about Christmas to me is that it is a reminder that this world will not be broken forever. The King that was defied by our ancestors is coming back! The prophet Isaiah carefully wrote these words:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace, there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
So what are we supposed to believe? Believe that the pain and suffering that you see this Christmas will not always be. The King is coming. Every tear will be wiped away. The hurt that plagues you will cease.
Christmas day is not simply about a cute baby that was born in a manger in the Ancient Near East. Christmas is about the fact that the “baby” grew up, lived, died and rose for us. Jesus, who saves us from the penalty of our sin, will one day save us from the effects of sin. This is why I can smile. The King is coming and He alone can fix this broken world. Take Macy’s advice and “believe…” because soon it will be Christmas day.
It’s Christmas time in the city Ring-a-ling, hear them ring Soon it will be Christmas Day Soon it will be Christmas Day