Each year, after we celebrate Thanksgiving, the approach of Christmas seems to come along quickly as we get gifts and make preparations to celebrate with family. This is the exact opposite of my experience as a child, when it seemed to take forever for Christmas to arrive. But the memories are still very vivid today, of when my mother was baking a variety of cookies, we would play those familiar records and decorate the house. The anticipation increased as we went to the candlelight service at church and would return home to new gifts under the tree. The whole process, including the reading of the bible story of the birth of Jesus was one of celebration as we had a birthday party for a little baby born two thousand years ago. What memories do you most recall as a child surrounding Christmas?
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
Each year, my wife asks me if we want to add any new traditions to our family during the Christmas season. We do nightly readings from an Advent book and they count down the days as well. We generally gather with my wife’s extended family at her grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve and attend a service in a small rural church, where her family makes up over half the congregation that night. We celebrate with food, gifts, and time with family. We try not to focus too much on what each child will be getting for gifts, but they do usually get more than they need from extended family. One tradition that I grew up with that I never really cared for was eating oyster stew on Christmas Eve, so I usually tried it, but opted for the other soup instead. I think that most celebrations should be an enjoyable experience, and help point you to the reason you are celebrating, the same way a Passover meal reminds us of how God protected and saved his people in Egypt. Are there any traditions you still do that have lost their meaning for you, but you still do it anyway?
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:10-11
As we celebrate Christmas each year, there may be things you may enjoy, and others that you don’t care for, but do anyway for the sake of others. As we look at the miracle of the birth of Jesus, we should also humble ourselves a little, and put the needs of others before our own. When it becomes all about us, we start to lose the point of this, or any other celebration. As you go through your traditions and celebrations this year, look for opportunities to talk about the meaning of Christmas with those you care about. If you are not certain about the value of any of these traditions, take those questions to God as well and He will likely give you some guidance in the direction you should go, just as he guided those with a star years ago to celebrate the birth of the newborn King. May the joy and peace of Christmas be with you as you put Christ.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17
Yours in Christ,