Christmas Eve

What’s important about today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Christmas Eve has always been a special day for me. Growing up, it was the day the extended family all got together. We would often stay up till midnight at my aunt’s house opening gifts with all of the extended family. That no longer goes on and some of the family have died, such as my grandmother and uncle.

Of course, none of this compares to nine years ago. It was on that day on Christmas Eve that I made one of the best decisions of my life. I got down on bended knee to the girl I had been dating and asked her to marry me. As you know, she said yes. The day was spent showing her ring to everyone we met. For some of them, this was the first time they got to meet Allie.

Nowadays, we spend Christmas Eve at different places. One year, we will go to see my family for Christmas. The next year, we will spend it with hers. We alternate Thanksgiving the same way.

Christmas seems like such a happy time. Right? We all get together and celebrate and give out gifts. We celebrate that there is hope in this world.

But Christmas Eve should remind us that Jesus came into this world not because it was full of hope, but because it had no hope. Jesus did not come because the world was such a wonderful place, but because it was such a terrible place. Jesus did not come because men were so wonderful, but because men were so awful.

On Christmas Eve, we should remember that Israel was in a place where there was no light. They were in their land, but under the most powerful empire of all. Rome could have beat Assyria and Babylon multiple times over when both of them were at their prime. How could a tiny nation in the Middle East hope to have any impact?

And yet the hope Israel thought it needed was not the hope it got. This is a mistake that we can often make too. We think that if God wants to come through for us, well, we know the way that He should come through. We know what our true need is. We know what is best. Reality check. We don’t.

Israel thought what was best was a political dynasty set up again. Put a king on the throne here on Earth and have him help defeat the Roman Empire and return Israel to the days of David. That was not what God had in mind. God had something greater in mind and yet, now we see that the Roman Empire is no longer here. It was conquered, but not by the sword, but by the love of Christ. Today, we name our children Peter and Paul and name our dogs Nero and Caesar.

Many of us today are truly in Christmas Eve. We are in a world where there seems to be no hope. We also think that we know what we need and that God will come through or we hope He will come through the way we expect.

Christmas Eve should show us God can blow apart our ideology and theology. No theologian of the time was expecting God to be incarnate as a little baby. He was.

He ended up giving us something better for Christmas than what we were asking. God’s greatest gift was not a dynasty being set up. It was Himself. On Christmas Day, God begins the process of giving Himself to the world.

Maybe it’s time we drop our expectations of what God should do. Just let Him do what He will do. He knows best anyway.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Christmas Eve Thoughts

What do we do the day before Christmas? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Christmas Eve is here and looking back, Christmas has radically changed over the years. In the past, I know it was about looking forward to what I was getting the next day. To be sure, there’s still some of that there. Allie and I have asked for various items and I look forward to getting some of them. (I highly anticipate that by this time tomorrow I’ll be watching my own copy of Pixels for instance.) I don’t know when it is, but you reach an age or a point in life where the gifts don’t really mean as much to you.

It could also be because now I know much more about what the season means. When you grow up, unfortunately, you’re not often told today all about the Christmas story. It’s not because parents don’t often care. It’s because many of them frankly don’t know about the Christmas story due to our lack of discipleship in the churches. My parents didn’t know what apologetics was until I started studying it and frankly, I didn’t even know what it was until I started studying it. I had never heard the word before.

One thing I like to think about this day though is to look at Christmas as really a declaration of war on the part of God. Christmas is God entering enemy territory and declaring war on the works of the devil. If that is the case, then we can see Christmas Eve as if it was preparation for D-Day. We are getting ready to celebrate the infiltration of our master into the enemy camp. We are celebrating that because we know the plan was successful and the battle was won.

It seems odd to think of Christmas as a war, but that is indeed what it was. We must remember that when Jesus was born, it was not the case that Jesus is born and the first thing we hear about is all the world coming together in peace and love. No. If we go with Matthew’s account, we know that Herod immediately ordered the slaughter of infants where Jesus was born. Evil was already on the move. When Joseph returns, he hears about Herod Archelaus and decides to go to Nazareth. Now why did he do that? Because Archelaus had ordered the murder of thousands of Jews on the temple grounds. Passover was canceled that year. Joseph and Mary lived a hectic life right at the start beyond what most of us would expect.

And yet, somehow the plan worked. All the evil that was devised against Jesus did not work, until it was the proper time, and then what was really meant to be the killing blow was in fact just that, but it was not the end. It was figured by the Jewish leaders that death would surely be the end and not just death, but a shameful death. God had other plans. God had the plan to overcome even a shameful death and bring the greatest honor to Jesus ever.

Tonight, I’ll be celebrating Christmas Eve with my church family and then with my blood family, but I hope I don’t forget that Christmas Eve is a day where we celebrate that we know the victory is coming.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Christmas Eve Thoughts

What am I thinking on the eve of Christmas? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Christmas sure has changed over the years for me. As a kid, it was all about the presents. Was I going to get that new video game I wanted (Often two of them) and then spend the rest of the day hibernating in my room? Quite likely. I had a list made of various items that I wanted and eagerly awaited them. My family is Christian, but I don’t think I really thought too much of the religious aspect.

Today, it’s quite different. Now I won’t deny, it’s nice to get gifts, but for me, the greater joy is giving the gifts and seeing people open them, especially with my wife. She and I went to the mall together and would take pictures of items that we wanted, but I don’t really remember most of them.

My folks have a really big gift for me this year at least by looking at the box. Allie asks me if I know what’s in it. Of course, I don’t. She asks me if I wonder. Well I am curious of course, but I don’t spend much time thinking about it. I really have no idea what I’m getting tomorrow, and I’m fine with that. It’s nice, but that’s not my focus any more.

In fact, as I type this, my wife has the TV on a channel just playing Christmas music and I quite enjoy hearing them, most especially the ones about Christ. I listen more and more now to see if I can hear good theology in a song. Honestly, when a song like “Mary, Did You Know?” is played at my church, I just have to sit down. I can envision everything and it’s a powerful thought.

I also think back to great Christmases over the years.

I think it was the Christmas when I turned 17, but I remember I came downstairs as usual to get my gifts and after I had opened several, my Dad asked my Mom where the other gift was. She said his friend Kenny had brought it over and left it in the garage. Well he called to confirm and then went downstairs to the garage saying he’d bring it in. Turns out, he called from there saying he needed some help and asked me to come down. Odd. Today I weigh about 120. I probably weighed 100 then. What could I really do to help?

So I went to the garage.

That’s when I found out my folks had gone all out that year and my first car was sitting in the garage. For those interested, it was a Beretta.

Yes. I went to see all my friends that Christmas to show off my gift.

It would be hard to top a Christmas like that, but it is doable. This one I know the year easily. It was 2009. Allie and I had been dating for nearly four months, but I’d done a lot of work for this one. It was my turn to give the gift and I knew it was going to be one of the best gifts ever.

Allie was to spend Christmas with me and my family in Knoxville. I lived in Charlotte at the time and she in Atlanta. I picked her up at the airport and before we left, took her to the statue of Queen Charlotte right outside the terminal. She has always been my Princess after all and I wanted her to see something special.

And yeah, I had a hidden agenda.

While out there, I asked her if she’d ever thought about being a queen. She replied by saying “Only if you’re the king.”

“Well I guess you’ve made this easy for me.”

Then the silence from her as she opens her mouth in shock seeing me get down on one knee and open a little box with a little ring in it and ask “Allie Licona, will you marry me?”

And yes, I still smile thinking about it.

And I find it amusing that my cell phone went off at just that time.

Of course, I didn’t answer, but when we were done, I checked to see who it was thinking “Mom. You always call at the worst times. It figures you would call right now.”

Well, that was half-right.

It was Mom. It was just the wrong Mom. It was hers to let me know that Allie’s plane had arrived early. (Naturally, her parents knew all about this. I had asked their blessing beforehand)We’ve said that if we ever have kids, the story of what their grandmother did will be immortalized forever.

I guess I’ve just added to it right now by putting it up on my blog. (And in all seriousness as well, be praying for my mother-in-law. She has back surgery today)

Now Allie and I live in Knoxville and since we went to see her family last Christmas, this is the first Christmas where we’ll be here in our home and since we always went out of town in Charlotte for Christmas, this will be our first Christmas with our cat Shiro as well.

Christmas has certainly changed then from being a little boy with my own family to being a husband now with my own family, but there is something about Christmas that has never changed.

That would be Jesus of course.

Yet I can say my recognition of this holiday has improved over time. I now see it as a day of revolution. I see Christmas as God’s opening shot heard around the world. I see it as a call to arms. I see it as God setting in motion his plan to retake this world and deal with the problem of evil.

In the hustle and bustle of everything going on, it’s easy to lose sight of that reason for Christmas. I pray this year that I do not. Now that I have my own family, I have to be the one after all to help remember the focus. Being the one in ministry in my own family as well, I will often be looked to for the theological meaning and I have to hope to provide accurately.

So for me, Christmas has gone from being excited about getting gifts, to getting to share with other people gifts and to think about the greatest gift of all, the coming of Christ.

Merry Christmas everyone!

In Christ,
Nick Peters