Christmas Begins with Confession

What a strange juxtaposition – Christmas and confession? Really, Heather? Are you sure that’s not just mommy brain talking? Well, no, I’m not sure, says the one who is very thankful for a hidden key, who was locked into my office by my twins one afternoon, who knocked over our Christmas tree (pictured here “before”), who currently has red wine splattered all over my kitchen ceiling due to a sauteing attempt gone wrong … ok, you get the point. At some point, I’ll publish a book of funny incidences that have happened since having children.

But for this afternoon, I want to share what I’ve been thinking about this Advent season – that, in fact, Christmas begins with confession. As I have been meditating on Psalm 51 after studying it for a talk I gave at our weekly women’s Bible study, confession seems to be something that I have a hard time grasping. It’s because I want to be right all the time. It’s because I want to be self-sufficient, not dependent on a God who became as weak as a little baby so that He could become my moment-to-moment strength. It’s because I find myself so wrapped up in the culture’s definition of what makes me valuable and worthy that I forget both (a) how unworthy I am of this God’s love and salvation grace and (b) how valuable I am because this God-come-near left heaven for earth to rescue me from the cultural standards I’ll never reach and the sin that makes me grasp at them.

As I have been seeking to count “1000 gifts” Ann Voskamp-style, my eyes have been more open to how ungrateful I can be. In fact, I often view life with hidden bitterness and smoldering resentment. Why is this? Instead of accepting God’s graces as a gift, I am prideful and think that I deserve them – in fact, that I’m so good that I’m entitled to them.

And so in order to celebrate Christmas truly, I must start with confession. Confessing that I am unworthy of the best gift that could possibly be given to me, and even worse, that I am often blind to my need for this gift. Confessing that I need the gift disguised in a baby born to a poor family in a cave in an obscure part of a no-name Israelite town (Bethlehem didn’t have any songs praising it for being little before Christ’s birth there). Confessing that I need others to open their hearts to me in confession so that I will remember how much I need it and how I, too, struggle with sin’s insidious influence. Confessing that you and I are much more similar than we are different because of the rescuing grace of God sent forth in a little baby. It’s a beautiful message that resonates with the deepest part of every person – so much so that we are immersed in a season that celebrates it in every holiday song, each house lit with twinkling lights, every tree adorned with ornaments and laden with gifts. And, no, not every person realizes this or in their Christmas celebration gives glory to the God who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14)- but one day, they will. So I invite you to start now by confessing with me all the ways you, too, need this humble Savior.

Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
Born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be glory given!
Word of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing!
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord.

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