Of course it is still Christmas here in California and we are enjoying mixing Kenyan traditions with our American traditions. It all simply reminds me that Christmas is not tradition, it is not family, it is not mbuzi na chapati. As John told us, Christmas is far above all those things:
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14.
As foreign as the concept of Roman gods coming to dwell with men, it must have been equally shocking for the Hebrews of John's day to receive that Yahweh humbled Himself to become of no reputation and like a bondservant. John could have used any number of words, but "behold" speaks of an assurance that they had experienced Jesus as fully human and fully God. Matthew 1:23 makes a point to give us the name of the Word as Immanuel, which means God with us. They did not just hear of Jesus, but they beheld the Word as flesh among them.
This verse is deeply familiar, but it still takes my breath away. God became man and crossed every cultural barrier known so that we could know him. The missionary in me is amazed. The sinner I am is grateful. The worshiper I am rejoices. This is Christmas, that God came and dwelt among us.
Grace & Truth Factor:
Jesus did not come in judgment, but full of grace. It could be said Jesus came bringing the love and forgiveness of God at His own expense. This grace is what separates Christianity from any other worship, religion or belief system. It is said that grace is scandalous because it is our receiving the greatest gift from God exactly because we can not earn it and we certainly do not deserve it. We receive relationship, eternal life and joy though we have rejected Him, that is grace. That is Christmas. How sweet the sound.
Since God came as fully man this grace would get Him murdered. Since God also came fully as God, for the joy that was set before Him (read you and I) He went to the cross. This is the truth portion of "grace and truth" that Jesus came in. God was true to Himself in assuring that sin would be punished. He took it. He paid for it Himself. That is grace and truth together. That is why we celebrate Christmas.
Christmas is the Gospel:
The word came on a rescue mission seeking that which was lost. He entered into a foreign land where His own did not even receive Him. This is Christmas and allows me to celebrate it wherever I am.