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After spending the last month in the Advent season awaiting Christmas morning and the celebration of the birth of Christ it would become easy to lose focus and start envisioning the birth of Christ as the most important story in the bible. Thinking that all other stories somehow fall short in comparison to the virgin birth, the announcement of the angels, and the visit of the Magi. Believing that the nativity story is one of the few stories that matters. Yet the birth of Christ only makes sense as part of a great story, the ongoing story of God and the world. It’s great that God came to earth, but it’s even better when understood in context.

God created because the Father, Son, and Spirit had so much love shared between themselves that the only way to make it even greater was to share love outside of themselves.  God created because God wanted to share love with the creation. God created in order to be in relationship with the creation, and especially with humanity: God’s image bearers. This shared relationship was perfect until humanity sought to become like God by eating from the tree they were commanded not to eat from. In choosing to disobey, humanity became their own gods and severed their perfect relationship with the real God. The idolatry of worshiping themselves, something created over the one who created all things, destroyed what God had made and separated humanity from the source of life. But God was not content to leave humanity to its idolatrous ways and so God began the mission of redeeming and restoring the relationship that had been lost with the creation. God’s mission began with Abraham and his descendents, who were called to be a light to the nations and a blessing to those around them. They were invited to join God’s mission in seeking healing with the world. The mission continued over hundreds of years and had many ups and downs through the life of Israel. But the whole time, God was moving history to a point in which the redemption could be fulfilled, in which God would come to make things right.

That’s when Christ came. Christ came at the fullness of time. Christ came when the world was ready for the Messiah. Christ came when God’s mission was ready to achieve a new goal. The birth of Christ comes as a major piece in the ongoing story of the world. As God sought to redeem the creation, the plan was always for God to come to earth, for God to live among us, and as part of us, to redeem us. Christ’s birth was the next piece of that story.

But the story didn’t end with Christ’s birth, it continued. All was not made right just because Jesus was born. Jesus had a task to perform. Jesus was born as one under the law to redeem those under the law. Jesus was born in an effort to help humanity become children of God. Jesus came because the entire creation was in bondage: slaves and captives to sin. The entire creation was suffering. But God wanted redemption. God wanted relationship to be restored. God still desired to share love with the creation. So Christ came to seek redemption, to free creation from the slavery of sin and to become children of God, heirs of the promise. Christ came to help accomplish God’s mission.

And the story continues even today, because God still seeks new creation. God still seeks for all things to be made new. God still seeks a new heaven and a new earth, when the relationship shared with humanity and the creation will no longer be affected by sin. When God will again reign on the throne and when all will seek and find life in relationship with God. The story is still heading toward a beautiful future, and that future is a secure reality.

So as we leave the Christmas season behind until next year, may we not forget that the birth of Christ is an amazing story that changes the course of history. Yet it is an amazing story not just because God came to earth, but because it is part of an ongoing story that began at creation and will be fulfilled in the new creation. It is part of a story of God seeking relationship and wanting to share love with all of us. And we are being invited into this life of relationship with God.