The snow this morning was beautiful as it blanketed the trees and the Christmas lights and I thought, “Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” Snow and Christmas lights…what is it about them that makes it look like Christmas?
What does Christmas look like?
I guess there are many answers to that question, each of you probably have your own definition. Listening to the songs played on the radio station describe about every definition of Christmas possible. Anything from “Santa Clause is coming to town,” to “How many kings stepped down from their thrones?”
How do you describe Christmas? What determines your definition?
The dictionary defines Christmas…”The annual festival of the Christian church commemorating the birth of Jesus; celebrated on December 25, and now as a legal holiday and an occasion for exchanging gifts.”
I find myself drawn to the word “now” in this definition. I find myself torn by this little three letter word…
Christmas, the original meaning, is the commemorating of the birth of Jesus. This is what I want Christmas to mean to me. This is how I want to see Christmas, how I want to describe Christmas.
Yet, this word “now” has me caught up in celebrating a holiday that is all about exchanging gifts.
I have lived caught between these two definitions. While I know Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth. While I have attended many Christmas Eve services and have sung traditional Christmas Carols all my life, I have also made many Christmas lists with gifts I want and I have sung about Frosty, Rudolf, and Santa, who knows everything about me…even whether or not I’m “naughty or nice.”
I have embraced many Christmas traditions that have brought the family together;
Choosing and decorating the perfect tree. Baking cookies, and making the gingerbread house covered with icing and candy. Attending Christmas Eve service, followed by all our favorite Christmas foods. Reading the Christmas Story from the book of Luke before opening the gifts…
These traditions are wonderful and provided many great memories.
I am thankful that I have kept Christ in Christmas. I am thankful that many of our family traditions have included the celebration of the birth of Jesus…but there is this word “now” that has me wondering if I have really seen Christmas, truly celebrated Christmas commemorating the birth of Jesus, my Savior, and my King.
It’s not condemnation…but it does cause me to do some heart searching.
How has the celebration of the birth of Jesus, “Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace,” now become a holiday that is about a man in a red suit bringing gifts on a sleigh drawn by eight tiny reindeer? The enemy has subtly replaced the truth with the pleasures and lusts of this world to distract us and blind us.
The celebration of the true meaning of Christmas holds within it the power to change lives for eternity.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17
God so loved the world!
How does God see Christmas?
“The people who walk in darkness shall see a great light…For onto us a child is born; onto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulders. These will be His royal titles: Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:2,6
Jesus, the Light of the world, humbled Himself, left His throne in heaven, and came to this earth that was lost in darkness. Jesus took on flesh as a Babe in a manger, fully God, fully man.
Jesus, the Savior of the world, came and walked the dust of this earth, the very dust He created us from, to save us from our sins, to give us life with Him forever!
This is exactly what our enemy doesn’t want for us. He has been eternally expelled from God’s presence and he means to keep as many of God’s creations from Him as well, distracted, blind, and walking in darkness.
So what better strategy than to steal the very celebration that holds within it the power to shine the Light of Jesus into the darkness, the power of a Savior to save souls for eternity, the power to reveal God has come to earth, Emmanuel, God with us?
That little three letter word, “now” represents the subtle ways the enemy has redefined Christmas. I see that I have conformed to ways the world celebrates the holiday of Christmas.
Busyness keeps me distracted from shining the Light and Love of Jesus with others.
Focused on the expectations of myself and others has me blinded to those who need to know the Saving Power of Jesus.
It is my prayer this Christmas that the Lord would show me how He defines Christmas. What does Christmas look like to Him? How would He have me to celebrate the birth of His Son, Jesus?
To celebrate the true meaning of Christmas may look similar to the first Christmas…
God so loved the world that He sent His Son,
so He sends you and me…
As a humble son or daughter…
filled with His Holy Spirit, God with us…
to shine His Light in this dark world…
to share His Story, the Good News…
for the salvation of many!
Lord, Thank You for Your incredible love for us that sent Your Son to earth as a Babe in a manger! Thank You for the Light that You have shined into our darkness so that we could see our sin and receive salvation through faith in Your Son, Jesus. You have given us the most incredible gift ever given!! Lord, show us how to celebrate the birth of Your Son. Show us how You see Christmas.
Jesus, You came as the Light, but now You have said that we are the Light of the world. Empower us with Your Holy Spirit to shine Your Light into the darkness around us so that others will see and know You, the true meaning of Christmas!
There is another tradition that our family has had the privilege of doing with friends for many years. It started over twenty years ago when Mark and I gathered our small group families together, put on robes, and read through the Christmas Story. We began at our house when the angel came to Mary. Then Mark lead our horse, Buck, with me on his back up to the barn where we found no room in the Inn, but were given a stable in which baby Jesus, a teddy bear wrapped in a swaddling blanket, was placed in a hand made manger. The story ended by playing, “Mary, Did You Know?” It was the beginning of a tradition that grew as our small group families joined together and made it bigger and better every year. After many years as our children grew older the costumes and props were left untouched in the basement for several years. Then when our daughter, Kayla, was eight, God prompted me to get out the costumes and the props and He breathed life back into the Living Nativity.
Today as I write this I am reminded of the truth of what I just wrote…there is a battle for the celebration of the true meaning of Christmas.
The “now” is always wanting to steal and destroy…
The “now” is always trying to distract and blind…
Every year of doing the Living Nativity there have been battles…
This year is no exception…
The battle of my will.
The battle of no cast.
The battle of no support roles.
The battle of no practices.
I’m so thankful that God fights my battles. That I can look to Him and trust that He will see that His Story goes out.
Its not about having everything perfect,
its about the Light of the world coming into this darkness,
about the Savior coming to seek and to save the lost,
its about God coming to earth, Emmanuel, God with us!
I invite you to come and join us as we celebrate the true meaning of Christmas! The Christmas Story told through narration, drama, and song. Two outdoor, hour-long, performances. Followed with hot chocolate and cookies!