When you peel back all the wrapping that our culture has put on Christmas and get back to the central message you find the celebration of Christmas is about a gift. It’s a gift from God to mankind…ALL mankind. Just like any gift, it not only must be offered but it must be actively received and then, used as intended. If someone wraps up a bread maker and gives it to me but I wanted a coffee maker instead, there are going to be a lot of grumpy mornings at my house. I wanted caffeine, not wheat and flour. Not that a bread maker isn’t a good gift. But, I can’t make or turn it into a coffee maker. That’s not what it was made to do and the gift giver assumed it would be used as intended…to make bread.
Despite all the things that get included in the celebration of Christmas, there is a core message or purpose for this historical, world changing event. Babies are born every day. Babies of all shapes, sizes, colors and health. But NO baby like Jesus was or has ever been born. No matter how He’s depicted in a manger scene, the fact remains, He is the Son of God. The incarnate God. God, dressed in flesh, coming into the womb of a young betrothed virgin girl named Mary. That IS Christmas. It’s not about family getting together—though that’s a good thing. It’s not about the beautiful, funny or even ireverent songs sung during this season—though they add to the celebration. It’s not about the trees, the presents, the food or the tradition—none of which are “evil” or bad. But, they are NOT Christmas. Somewhere over time, we’ve lost the focus of this celebration. In techno-geeky terms we’ve swapped the “plug-ins” with the core application. A plug in is no good without the application to “plug it into”. And, so it is with Christmas. If we don’t fall on our knees at the gift of salvation that the Baby came to give us and accept it for what it is, than Christmas is just another social, retail, economic event. Not a bad thing. Just not THE thing.
I probably won’t stop shopping, spending time with family, elbowing the lady next to me to get the last available of something (ok…I’ll probably have to stop that), listening to all kinds of Christmas music and the other wrappings of Christmas. But, God…please help me, once again, to fully embrace what You did by sending Jesus Christ to this earth. That Baby changed my world forever when I realized at the age of 17 why He came:
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
(Lk 2:10-14, ESV)
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