Red letter day: a day that is pleasantly noteworthy or memorable
English nerd that I am, I’m a sucker for double meanings, and I’ve been holding this series idea in for much too long. Over the next few posts, we’ll focus on the big days (red-letter ones) in the life of Jesus (who apparently spoke in scarlet, according to some Bible printing processes). Get it? Red letter days.
Between the cake, confetti, streamers, balloons, and noisemakers, there’s no better place to start celebrating than on a birthday. But this isn’t just any old birthday. This is the long, long, long, long-awaited appearing of God with us, anticipated since the promise in Genesis 3.
But first, a little context.
Have you ever known a woman struggling with infertility? Month after month, crushing disappointment looms heavy yet again. The tear stains on her pillow testify to long nights spent in prayer. She’s collected dozens of ideas for her secret dream boards on Pinterest, but no amount of desire can cause a new heart to form and beat inside her. Mother’s Days and baby showers for friends and mom-centered social media posts intensify the sting. Such a weary season of holding her breath.
And finally, that second pink line shows up, and the world is filtered by vibrant hope.
We were that woman, friends. The exhausted race of humanity needed a Rescuer wrapped in new baby smell, fresh from His throne of glory and willing to enter the mess for us. We groaned and ached along with the rest of creation. Centuries ticked by, and still no heartbeat. Nothing we tried could speed up the process; we were utterly incapable of providing this Child for ourselves.
But then, miracle of miracles, here He was! Ten fingers, ten toes, curled up in a blanket in a barn. Absolutely perfect. Absolutely worth waiting for.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
Those ten fingers and ten toes held every promise a new mama could wish for, and I’m sure Mary envisioned how Jesus would learn to walk, run, and climb trees. If she could have seen the future, she’d have witnessed how He’d walk on the storm-tossed waves, run to the helpless, and climb that final tree to set her free forever.
But all she knew in that dumpy little stable was that God had finally come—through her frail frame, for her needy soul.
That, friends, was a birthday to remember. Angels and shepherds and kings took notice. Will we?
There’s no reason to relegate this celebration to one day a year (mixed up with mischievous elves and a creepy old man embodying legalism). A Son—the Son!—has arrived! Grab your party hat. Let’s make a joyful noise.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for Me
One who is to be Ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.