The Spirit of Christmas…and it is NOT about us
As I have recently finished watching the 20th “Christmas” movie since Thanksgiving it seems necessary to remind ourselves what the “Spirit of Christmas” truly is. If I knew nothing about the Bible, I would think that Christmas was a duty and responsibility of man. For the movies say we “keep the spirit of Christmas in our heart”. Ponder this line from the fun and enjoyable movie, The Santa Clause? Scott Calvin, has become the new Santa Clause (watch the movie to find out how) but is struggling to accept his new position. In an exchange with Bernard, the head Elf, he asks “What if don’t buy any of this Santa Clause thing? What if I choose not to believe it?” Bernard responds “Then there would be millions of disappointed children around the world. You see, children hold the spirit of Christmas within their hearts. You don’t wanna be responsible for killing the spirit of Christmas, now would you… Santa?” No presents, no Santa Claus, equals the death of Christmas? Randomly watch any one of the Christ-less Christmas movies and you will find the same theme underlines each one. We, people, are all that keeps the spirit of Christmas alive. Wrong!
Even those who understand that Christmas is about recognizing, pondering, and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ can easily get distracted. Remember, the Enemy does not want you to focus on the real Spirit of Christmas, so he throws in all sorts of distractions. Shopping, parties, “Griswolding” the house, travelling, planning meals, planning meal scheduling, cooking, baking, etc. All of which can keep us distracted. If that’s not enough, let’s throw in some arguments. Yes, it is possible Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th. Yes, there are some ancient pagan traditions that have leached onto Christmas (yes, I have a Christmas tree and outside of the angle on top, it has nothing to do with Jesus’ birth). Yes, I have gotten caught up in the battle cry of “Merry Christmas” to counter the maddeningly empty words of Happy Holidays and Seasons Greetings. All of these issues, mind you, are mere distractions that the Enemy uses to divert us from the true point of Christmas.
Christmas is a single day we have collectively set aside to reflect and focus upon on one of the most important and pivotal events in human history. It is a day where we celebrate and honor the greater event of God coming to live with, demonstrate a perfect life for, to die for, and ultimately defeat death so His creation can have eternal life. Christmas is about the birth of eternal salvation, through Jesus Christ!
When was the last time you read the entire Christmas story from the Bible? Slowly? Deeply? Luke and Matthew do a great job of capturing the greater and larger story surrounding Jesus’ birth. It is a history that doesn’t happen on a single day but it encompasses several years. The story starts about one year before the birth of Jesus with the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth and the promised birth of John the Baptist. The story ends several years after Jesus’ birth when Joseph and Mary flee to Egypt to save Jesus’ life. In between is a saga filled with joy and sadness, hope and tragedy–real life. At the heart of these real-life experiences, Jesus, our Messiah and Savior is born. The entire story shows the true loving and devoted nature of a God who loves his creation…in spite of its shortcomings.
Slow down. Take time to read the first two chapters of The Book of Luke and The Book of Matthew. Let the smallest details of the history around Jesus’ birth reveal God’s complete nature. Let the Holy Spirit show the true Spirit of Christmas.
- Have you ever really thought about the full meaning of John the Baptist leaping inside the womb of Elizabeth when Jesus, inside of Mary, enters into his presence.
- I marvel at Zechariah’s Prophecy after John the Baptist was born. You need to remember Zechariah has been unable to speak for nine months and his long-awaited for son was just born. However, his first recorded words were not about his own son, but a child who was yet to be born three months later. Recognize his humble pride in knowing his son’s role in pointing the way to the Messiah.
- Do you recognize the rejection experienced by Joseph and Mary in their search for lodging? No one would give up a room for a clearly pregnant young girl! No one had the heart or empathy to a young couple in the truest need. The world was ripe for a Savior; just as it is ripe once again for His return.
- As a result, Emmanuel (God with us) was born homeless. His first crib, a feeding trough. This reality is difficult to fully express. The reality of my God, my Creator, my King, my Savor being born in the lowest and humblest of circumstances is simply stupefying.
- However, another experience happening nearby reminds us of God’s glory and majesty. Take in the brilliance of the angelic announcement that “The Savior–yes, the Messiah, the Lord–has been born today in Bethlehem…”. Now try to picture this next event: A “vast host of others—the armies of heaven–…” A Roman legion consisted of around 5,000 troops. Jesus said he could have called down 12 legions of angels (about 60,000 angels) when he was arrested. A modern Army group consists up to 450,000 troops. Now, see “the armies of heaven” announcing this message…”Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” God used his armies of heaven to declare there is now real peace available to man. A peace that would come through his son. A peace that is only made possible by and through God. God’s armies announced peace…not war.
- Have you ever noted, when Jesus was presented at the Temple, that the first blessing received by Jesus was not from the High Priest, a Priest, or a Prophet but from a righteous and devout follower of God…a layman. Simeon was one of us. He did not have any pedigree or title. He DID have a right relationship with God; which is all that is needed!!!
- Do not ignore the politically inspired tragedy of Herod’s infanticide of all children 2 years old and younger. His desperate drive to hold onto office and power drove him to commit a horribly sinful act. Notice how quickly Jesus was rejected and driven away from the very nation looking for the salvation he came to provide as Mary and Joseph flee to Egypt to save Jesus’ life.
The greater story of Christ’s birth captures the total Spirit of Christmas. It includes aspects of hope, joy, peace and love that Christmas is rightfully known for. It also includes doubt, scandal, rejection…the fallen nature of the world. The Spirit of Christmas is about God, temporarily lowered part of himself to our level, into our mire and muck. It is about a God doing the unthinkable so as to provide you and I with the gift of eternal salvation and eternal peace with those who he is well pleased. How do we please God? By accepting the gift that he gave us. The true Spirit of Christmas is about the gift of the life of Jesus (God saves) Christ, our Lord and Messiah.
I pray that God blesses you and yours and my you have a very Merry Christmas!
CHRISTIAN POLITICIAN MOMENT.
We all know that the very way Western civilization has kept and marked time is based upon the birth of Jesus Christ. B.C. = Before Christ. A.D. = Anno Domini (Latin for “in the year of the Lord”).
There are attempts to remove the B.C. and A.D. designations and use “Common Era” dating. While this calendar dating system has been around for a while, it was never widely accepted or used. However, secularist, not surprisingly, in their attempt to wipe out every reference to Jesus Christ have pushed for the replacement of Anno Domini convention with Common Era convention. So “B.C.”, Before Christ, would become BCE, Before Common Era and “A.D.”, Anno Domini, would become “CE” Common Era.
Christian politicians needs to watch for and defend against this naked aggression toward removing yet another reference to the single most person to have ever lived in human history. Naturally this will be guised is the terms of tolerance and acceptance of those who do not believe in Jesus. Please have the fortitude to stand up for those who DO believe!
DID YOU KNOW?
Many documents dated during the birth of our nation were signed using the phrase “…in the year, one thousand seven hundred and eight seven”; others used the phrase “in the year of the Lord…”. The United States Constitution was dated using the phrase “…in the year of our Lord…” emphasis added. It would seem to me, if separation of church and state has been the intention and desire of the framers of the Constitution, they would have started with the dating of the document itself. The truth of the matter is a vast majority of the founders knew the importance of a moral Country and these morals were based upon the Bible and teachings of Jesus Christ. His presence was signed into the Constitution in recognizing him as “our Lord.”