Although many will have fond memories of the Christmas season whether it is family traditions, childhood reminiscing, a favorite song, or the feel of winter and the first snow of the season. It might be an aroma like warm cider, the scent of fresh evergreens, or Christmas dinner. While those warm memories are ours to enjoy, for some this Christmas season is a difficult one. Perhaps it reminds you of loved ones who are no longer part of your life, due to death or strained relationships. Either way, the memories are ours, and we need be careful we do not make them the main thing. Life can be hard at times in very real and different ways. However, we must remember without Jesus there would be no celebration. Without Christ, there is no Christmas.
The scenes and tastes of the season may be wonderful things for some, but none of them is Christmas. This season can be a painful reminder of who is and is not in the room and at the table. One who was with us last year may now be gone from this world. Another may have chosen not to join the family to celebrate Christmas. The truth is, many families are fractured, and while we should make every effort to forgive and ask for forgiveness, sometimes we simply do not have the power to change the hearts and desires of estranged family and friends.
It is not Merry Mas; it is Christ-mas. Without Jesus, there would be no celebration. Although there are some who would argue that, His birth occurred in some other season, perhaps even in the fall. The truth is we simply do not know the exact date of His birth but speculation of the date is traced back as far as the 3rd century. Because the December timeframe corresponded to the time of the pagan festivals celebrating Saturnalia and the winter solstice, the church thereby offered people a Christian alternative to the pagan festivities and eventually reinterpreted many of their symbols and actions in ways acceptable to Christian faith and practice. It is impossible to prove whether Jesus was born on December 25 or some other month and date altogether, ultimately, it does not matter. If God felt it was important for us to know the exact date of the Savior’s birth, He certainly would have told us in His Word. The bottom line without Christ, there is no Christmas. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6.
Christmas is about giving—it’s about what God has given to us. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.” In that phrase we find summarized all the wonder of the Incarnation—God becoming flesh and dwelling among us – John 1. The human side of Jesus was the child born, and all the lessons wrapped up in the timing, location, and status of His birth stand alongside the awesome truth that the baby in the manger was God’s Son given to us and for us. When you realize God came to earth on a mission, Christmas becomes truly life changing.
Then, like now, the world was largely oblivious to what God was doing. Maybe it was because God did not make a grand entrance. Only those who were attentive knew; only those willing to be directed saw the newborn. Who knew that He had come under cover as one of us? Jesus’ arrival in Bethlehem fulfilled not only Isaiah’s prophecy but also God’s purposes all the way back to the fall of humanity. Jesus is the gift God gave to satisfy the longing within us from the beginning. As the carol writer put it, “The hopes and fears of all the years” were met in Bethlehem that night. Jesus is Emmanuel—God with us. He put the glory of God on display at the human level. As John wrote of the Jesus, he knew: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” -John 1:14.
If you miss God’s glory at the heart of the story, you miss Christmas. Do not get distracted by the world, Jesus came with you in mind, willing to do whatever it took to make you fit for eternity with Him. This year, meditate and focus on the events and moments that surround God’s very personal gift to you. If you do, Christmas will take on an entirely new meaning in your life, receive Him and allow your Christmas to truly become life changing.