What does Christmas mean to me? There are so many memories, mostly of joy. But here is what keeps coming back to me this year, this weird, unusual Christmas of 2020. Christmas means God understands.

The author of Hebrews writes, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

That means God gets it! God knows what it’s like to live in this world, with its mind-blowing joy and heart-breaking loss. God knows what it is like to be bored, grumpy, bent over with laughter, and all the rest, because God lived it all in Jesus Christ. Christmas is God’s willingness to give up being God to live the human life.

It means when I cry out to God, God might even say, “Yeah, I know that is tough. Been there, done that.” When I laugh and weep tears of joy, God feels that too. At that first Christmas, God gave us the greatest gift possible, the gift of God’s self. Christmas means God understands. Whatever we are experiencing—good or hard, sad or joyful, God understands. There is no place we will go in life, the highest mountaintop or deepest valley, where Jesus has not gone before us. We have a God who knows us, and knows our life, inside and out. Being born as a baby on that first Christmas, God has lived it all. Christmas means God understands. What a gift!

Merry Christmas!