Christmas in the Spirit

If you want to hear it said better than I am going to, this author has absolutely nailed it: what’s wrong with Christmas. At least in America.

A cousin told me in a phone conversation that this year she and her two sisters are not going to invite anyone over to celebrate Christmas. Instead, they are going to leave the rush, confusion, gift-buying, gift-wrapping, tree decorating, cooking-too-much-food craziness behind and just go away together to a place they will not reveal. Just to be alone and really talk to each other. Relax. Let their minds and bodies slow down and unwind.

Their decision reminded me of a Christmas decades ago when the then six members of my immediate family all had good jobs and low bills. (Except Grandmother, who was retired, but Mother and Dad took great care of her in every way.) We each bought gifts for all the others. Multiple gifts. Expensive gifts. On Christmas morning, the six-foot Christmas tree was half buried under brightly wrapped gifts. I kid you not. Wasn’t that wonderful?! A celebration of American prosperity and productivity and the blessings thereof …

Truthfully, I looked at that mountain of gifts and I was disgusted. Repulsed. At that moment, I wasn’t thinking of crowding Jesus out of Christmas. I was just disgusted with myself and family for being so sickeningly materialistic. The others agreed, and we decided from then on to draw names for Christmas, and each of us just give gifts to just one other family member.

If you struggle to afford Christmas presents, don’t feel guilty about buying the best you can afford for your family. Budgets aside, there’s nothing wrong with giving gifts, and Christmas is a good time to get together with family. Hugs and laughter, sharing family news and singing! Nothing wrong with those things. Merry Christmas! But don’t let the spirit of this world sucker you into losing your focus on the most important event in the history of the world.

Without the Incarnation of God becoming Man, there would have been no salvation. No forgiveness of sins. No relief from guilt and no hope for life after death. No hope of seeing those you love, ever again, after they die.

Christmas should be a time of serious, although joyous, even triumphant, reflection on the beachhead that the King of Kings established on Christmas day! Very much the same as a Communion service. The Prince of Peace came to bring eternal, joy-filled peace to those who would accept His terms. God the Father had requested that He go on the biggest rescue mission that ever has been, or ever will be. On that first Christmas, there were decades of mundane, sometimes terrifying, always difficult days ahead of the Holy Child, as He grew and became the Holy Messiah and finally became the ultimate Passover Lamb, sacrificed so that God’s justice toward sin could be satisfied and we who are incurably sinful could be cured forever of our sins.

Have you ever managed to live a day, just one day, without a single sin? Not me. Yet King Jesus was able to challenge His deadly enemies with this question, “Which one of you convicts me of sin?” (John 8:46) That was what it took for King Jesus to be qualified to be our Passover Lamb. Think about how hard it must have been to live in this world where sin is offered to us 24/7/365, in very attractive packages, with alluring lies of fulfillment and happiness. None of us could ever have qualified.

We all know, and sometimes give serious thought to, the crucifixion. But we usually overlook what it took to get there, and to be qualified to accept the cross, qualified to open the scroll of Revelation chapter 5. It was right that when John heard the challenge, “Who is worthy to open the scroll?“, he “began to weep loudly and bitterly” because “no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.” That scroll contains the Judgments of God against sin, and it was necessary that someone be qualified to administer the Judgments, or sin could never be ended. Evil could never be judged and imprisoned forever.

And we could never have been declared righteous, and transformed into perfectly righteous Children of God who will never again do damage to ourselves or other people or any part of God’s Creation.

All that is wrapped in the first and most incredible, wonderful Christmas gift that has ever been given. Meditate on these things this Christmas. Share your thoughts and Christmas hymns with friends and family. Praise God and thank Him profusely and with deep sincerity and overflowing gratitude for the incredible gift He gave us. This is what we call worship, and the Trinity are well worthy of it. You will be blessed by doing so.

 

 

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