God does not call us to celebrate Christmas. God calls us to love His Son.
As mature trees gradually exchange their lush green mantles of summer for autumn masterpieces of red, purple, and gold the tenor of the world begins to change. The clamor over back-to-school shopping, the World Series, Texas high school football, and the irritants of cultural, economic, and political discourse begin to recede as the sounds, smells, and rhythms of the Holiday Season consume both days and dollars once more.
Spiritual Remnants of Christmas
The miracle of Christmas is all but buried under an avalanche of worldliness threatening to extinguish the once brilliant flame of this joyous and blessed celebration of love. Tucked into the hidden recesses of yearning hearts are flickering embers of Christmas past; spiritual remnants that still testify to the fulfillment of God’s promise to the world of peace and good will to men.
What is Christmas? The word itself offers a clue. It begins with Christ.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” – John 1:1-5
And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.
Christ was before the beginning and is the only reason and subject of Christmas. The birth of Jesus provided a life line into eternity for sinful man in the same way Isaac was spared from sacrifice in the place Abraham named “The LORD will provide.” [Genesis 22:14.]
God did not send a chorus of angels announcing His plan for men to share goodwill with one another; He sent Jesus to make the impossible possible, so that sinful men and women could one day stand before a holy God. Christmas is the gift of a Savior, Christ the Lord, which is impossible for any to deserve or earn. Christmas is about love. Christmas is about loving God’s Son.
The second syllable of Christmas suggests that there is more. Mas translates from Spanish as more. There is more. Christ walked the earth as a human for 30 years before serving His Father in ministry for another three. And then Jesus, the reason and subject of Christmas, submitted Himself to the Cross that the promise of Christmas might be fulfilled. There is so much more – and all of the more began on Christmas.
The Miracle of Christmas
There is nothing special about anything if everything is special. Precious memories are created by singular events. No gift inspires true delight if it must compete with a herd of others. The gift of a Savior stands apart. Endless quantities of food, gifts, or experiences offer no lasting value. They are nothing but trees populating a forgettable forest.
The message of Bethlehem’s Star assures all who believe that there is a mansion in heaven prepared especially for them by the Gift of Christmas [John 14:2-3]. Christmas is not a meal, a social event, or a reason to indulge yourself with something you’ve had the will power to resist until the Holiday Season released you from wiser decisions.
Christmas is a relationship between a Father and His children. Christmas is the gift of peace and goodwill toward men. The gift is not peace among men, but peace between a Holy God and sinful men and women. This gift of peace is possible because an infant was born in a lowly stable who grew up to be the Savior of the world.
The world continues to chip away at the traditions of Christmas, but the miracle of Christmas is unassailable. The King is still on His throne and our unbreakable relationship with Him still gives us a reason for gratitude and rejoicing.
Christmas is just that simple. Simple shepherds. Simple message. Simple folk. And we are simply saved. Remember the Gift that is both the beginning and reason for Christmas. Embrace the spirit of Christmas, return to family and faith by rejecting the Holiday Season of the worldly.
Love Was Born in a Stable
The brilliant lights of the Holiday Season purposefully distract us away from the miraculous Star of Bethlehem to the noisy, festive, pointless celebration of mankind. There is no raucous party on the other narrow road [Matthew 7:13], just the joyous realization that God provided a Gift that guarantees peace between His people and their God. Love was born in a stable.
There were brilliant lights the night of Christ’s birth. God provided the piercing starlight that illuminated a heavenly choir announcing His Son’s arrival into the world from outside of the world. Mankind has tried to one-up the King of Kings ever since that Holy Night. Every jot and tittle of inspiration, encouragement, or pressure to compete with the Creator of the universe began in the darkness of the path leading away from God.
“Whatsoever we have over-loved, idolized, and leaned upon, God has from time to time broken it, and made us to see the vanity of it.” ~ John Flavel
Enough is as Good as a Feast
The moment in time of Immanuel’s birth, God with us, gradually expanded over centuries into a familial celebration filled with praise, generosity, warmth, love, peace, and joy. Christmas in the 21st century is most accurately described as a commercial orgy. Modern Christmas, the Holiday Season, is reminiscent of the frantic toasting and party atmosphere of Titanic celebrants just before she broke in two and sank.
Every year the Holiday Season gets bigger, longer, and louder because it still isn’t enough. Stores open earlier on Thanksgiving and Black Friday has become a weekend event rather than a one-day shopping opportunity.
Christmas marked the entrance of Christ into the world. A Savior was born. The Cross of Christ made it possible for men and women to walk the path that leads to God. Christ alone is enough. Nothing and no one else will ever be enough to satisfy an empty or broken heart, spirit, home, or life except the Gift of Christmas, Jesus Christ.
Each year the lie persists, “More is better.” The lie suggests that more parties, more alcohol, more gifts, more shopping, more food, more lights, more debt, more companions willing to walk the path leading to the twinkling festive lights of darkness will somehow add up to enough. They will not. They cannot.
Christ is enough. Enough is a feast.
Is there still reason to rejoice? Absolutely! Even if your eyes see the darkness falling across our communities and the world and even while you lament the full measure of this flawed temporal reality – you can still come to the Lord with boundless gratitude and joy. The Gift of reconciliation is yours.
Christmas is an opportunity to gather the family and friends in gratitude and joy. It is an opportunity to teach children, revere elders and remember that even if your present circumstance is not one of material bounty, there is abundance yet and that the Christ child walks beside you.
The Offense of Christmas
Over the past 100 years the official meaning of Christmas in western societies has changed from a focus on God’s gift to the world to man’s self-centered enjoyment of God’s world without acknowledging the One who created it. “Mankind,” some say, “has progressed to a greater understanding and tolerance for our fellows.”
The simple truth is that man has not changed one iota since the garden gate slammed behind Adam and Eve. Christmas is a federal holiday celebrated by all but an odd collection of minorities. The Holiday Season has become a 6-12 week orgy of food, festivity, football, and an excuse to indulge every desire of the flesh.
As long as those who oppose the celebration of the Holiday Season orgy keep their beliefs and disapproval hidden it remains possible to maintain an uneasy truce with their more progressive, tolerant, and enlightened fellows. This fragile truce is broken whenever the name of Jesus Christ is included in public comment about the Holiday Season or related festivities.
Unchanging and Unchangeable
The message of Christmas has not changed in 2000 years and will not change in another 10,000. There are two paths to walk in life, one leading to God and the other away from Him. Christmas – Christ and more – opened the gate to make entrance into heaven possible.
Christmas begins with Christ. Everything begins with Christ. But there’s more. There is a promise to you from God Himself. There is a promise from God to your spouse and your son, your daughter and your neighbor. There is a promise from God to all who are not too progressive or evolved to receive it. The promise begins with love. God’s Son came to earth on Christmas. God calls us to love His Son.
A Promise Fulfilled
Christmas does not change. No matter how corrupt a government, Christmas will still come. No matter how inclement the weather Christmas will still come. No matter the dithering among family members, Christmas will still come.
No matter ANYTHING, Christmas will still come. Christmas already came. What you celebrate today is the anniversary of the moment in time when God fulfilled His promise. Christ was the Promise. He is the Promise. The Promise was made. The Promise was kept.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulders; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6
God does not call you to celebrate Christmas. God calls you to love His Son and to love one another as He loves us.