I love Christmastime. Pictures of snow covered yards and houses packed with loved ones gathered by a roaring fire. Flickering lights on evergreen trees, smells of pine and cinnamon filling the air. Manger scenes appear everywhere to celebrate the arrival of the Messiah, Jesus, “God with us.” But wherever I look, something is missing.
I mean, sure, I see the baby Jesus lying in a wooden trough, cocooned in a blanket. Mary and Joseph, wearing long robes, adoring their darling child. The shepherds arrived with their well-mannered sheep. Docile cows and patient donkeys watch over the scene as the wise men arrive, dressed in ornate robes and turbans, riding on their camels. Every manger scene contains the same elements, and each one misses something.
I never see the red dragon.
“What?! What red dragon?” I am confident you have never seen a red dragon as a part of a manger scene either. We want the night Jesus arrived to be a quiet night, dark and peaceful with the stars blazing. But I promise you, the dragon should be included.
Revelation 12 describes what happened behind the scenes. Satan arrived in the form of a fiery red seven-headed dragon with ten horns. Gargantuan enough to sweep stars from the sky with his tail. The dragon waited as a woman gave birth to a Son, Jesus, who would become the Great Shepherd and Ruler of all the nations. The dragon intended on devouring the child as soon as he took his first breath. The hosts of heaven intervened, protecting the boy and ruining the dragon’s plans. The dragon flew off in a rage to attack the followers of Jesus. Satan couldn’t get to the Son, so now focuses his energy on the other children of God.
The war continues today on earth between the angels and the forces of the dragon. We don’t want to believe it. When terrible things happen, we respond in shock and surprise. We feel astonished and dismayed when we see evil rise and flourish. We want our lives to be like waking up in a beautiful garden, safe and innocent.
Our reality is more like soldiers waking up in the mountains of Afghanistan. Or being on patrol in the jungles of Vietnam. Maybe on a boat headed to the beaches of Normandy. We are under fire from the moment we open our eyes.