I am a true Christmas aficionado. I love this time of year. We have decorations all over the inside and outside of our home, including the “Charlie Brown” Christmas lights. I watch as many of the claymation movies I can (how can you not like Yukon Cornelius or Heat Miser?), I spend hours preparing our prime rib and Yorkshire pudding, and my excitement grows daily for our kids to open their presents, including our new son-in-law this year!
But in all of my passion for the season, there is a grave danger. This danger is highlighted in one simple verse from Luke 2: “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.’”
This is how Jesus was heralded into the world; one angel appearing to a few shepherds during one evening outside of Bethlehem to announce that the birth of Christ was “good news” and “great joy.” This is the “true meaning of Christmas.”
Yet, as with my own festivities, the true meaning is often forgotten, overlooked or minimized when this time of year roles around, and that is dangerous.
We forget why we are bouncing from one party to another; gaining weight with the promise of the New Year upon which to be resolute; purchasing gifts that have a fifty-percent chance of breaking or tearing in less time that it took us to stand in the ridiculously long line to buy them; risking our lives by leaning over the top of precariously placed ladders only to raise our electric bills; oh, and speaking of bills – spending plastic money we really don’t have to buy things for people we really don’t know only to have them re-gifted so those people do not need to spend their money.
Commercialization, tradition, self-indulgence, entertainment and an emphasis on world peace have buried the plain and simple fact that nothing we as humans have to offer is really “good news” or will bring us “great joy.”
How could our wildest imaginative celebration ever compete with God, Himself, giving us His only Son, through a virgin birth to humbly be a part of creation while still being divine in the form of the man named Jesus, to fulfill a plan created in eternity past that would give us eternal life even though we deserved eternal death, simply by believing in Him as our Lord and Savior?
We can’t compete with that! We offer ourselves nothing even remotely close to this good news and the great joy that comes with it. And, we need to remember that as we decorate the tree, sing about Rudolph and Frosty, wrap presents, carve the turkey, and watch countless bowl games.
We need to do more than remember it – we need to meditate how the good news has changed our lives, we need to humbly and passionately thank God for great joy it has brought us, and we need to share it with those around us daily through our words and actions. When we do this, we truly celebrate the birth of our Savior!
Have a very Merry Christmas and New Year!