The Meaning Of Christmas
THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL
I love Christmastime. It’s my most wonderful time of year hands down. But the truth is, sometimes, Christmas doesn’t go as planned. You can shop early, save money, even make plans in July, but sometimes things just don’t work out. For most of the world, Christmas has been turned into a money-spending materialistic extravaganza. While spending money isn’t always bad, putting the materialistic parts of Christmas above its true meaning is sadly the status-quo. The shopping, cooking, and decorating can become a frenzy of deadlines and stress, while the true meaning of Christmas left behind in the dust. So, what is the true meaning of Christmas? It doesn’t stop at kindness, love, or charity; it’s deeper than even that. How do we mindfully honor the true meaning of Christmas while still enjoying all the wonderful traditions and activities? There might not be a perfect answer, but I hope that we can all remember to take a moment, pause, and mindfully honor what Christmas is all about. I know it might seem cliché to tell the Christmas story in a Christmas newsletter, as all of you have probably heard it a thousand times. But like the saying goes, hearing is different than listening. Listening means being mindful about what you’re hearing or reading. So, as you read these Scriptures, try this. Remove all distractions, and mindfully listen to the true meaning of Christmas.
THE CHRISTMAS STORY: LUKE 2
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, 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, goodwill toward men!” So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
WHY IS THE CHRISTMAS STORY IMPORTANT TO ME?
The Christmas story is more than just a fairytale, it is more than just another page in a children’s book. It is the ultimate story of hope, redemption, and salvation. There are real, difficult people facing stress, anxiety, and what probably felt like unbeatable odds. Mary and Joseph were an everyday couple who were given one of the most important tasks in the whole world. They had the responsibility of not only becoming parents (which is hard enough) but to a child who would change the world.
Mary had to face the incredible challenge of becoming pregnant as a young, engaged virgin and Joseph had to wrestle with the choice to stay with his wife and be socially shamed. They were not even married, yet they were chosen for this responsibility and given the strength to endure it. Getting pregnant before you were married was an unspeakable thing in Biblical days, so not only was Mary probably afraid and a little confused, but also socially shunned. Joseph had to trust his wife and more importantly trust God’s promise that she had not been unfaithful to him. When we treat the Christmas story like the opening act compared to the rest of Christmas, we belittle the gravity and grandeur of what Christmas is about. The holiday is dedicated as a day and season to celebrate the gift that Jesus gave us by sacrificing his place at the right hand of God and coming down to our gritty planet full of pain, death, and fear. He fulfilled the innate need of humanity for hope. When Jesus becomes the sideshow novelty at Christmastime, that hope and sacrifice doesn’t seem as important. All this is not to say that you shouldn’t have a Christmas tree, buy presents, or sing about Santa and Rudolph. However, we all know what it feels like to set Jesus to the side. You might even be feeling convicted about it right now. You might’ve been so busy this year with kids, work, a relationship, or even mental health struggles that you’ve missed the “reason for the season”. By doing so, you are missing out on the wonderful meaning of Christmas.
HOW DO I REMEMBER THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS?
If you want to prioritize the true meaning of Christmas in your family, but don’t know how, here are some tips. Try reading the Scripture verses above every day and picking a different verse to meditate on every day. If you have kids, you can do this by reading these verses to them every night. Take some time on Christmas or Christmas Eve to sit in prayer, without the distractions of presents or cooking and thank Jesus for his sacrifice and gift. Make it a point to remind yourself whenever you’re feeling stressed what Christmas is all about. Not only will this honor the Lord and help you have a better relationship with Him, but it will also help you from getting overwhelmed by the stress of the holiday season.
Ask yourself this. If everything was taken away, the Christmas trees, songs, presents, food, and parties, would you be able to celebrate Christmas still? Without all the trappings and trimmings, would you still know what Christmas meant to you? If not, then take the time you have left and rediscover the true meaning of Christmas. I hope and pray that the gift of love and salvation that Jesus gave to us is as important to you as it is to me. My prayer for you this Christmas is that you grasp the true depth of Jesus’ love this season and let it change the way you view this time of year. After all, that’s what Christmas is all about.