The Christmas season has arrived!
Christmas is a season of great joy – a time to praise God and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
What is more miraculous than the coming of God in the flesh – born to the Virgin Mary, conceived by the Holy Spirit – a Savior sent to redeem mankind from its sins?
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son, and will call Him Immanuel. – Isaiah 7:14
If you remain focused on the true meaning and message of Christmas this holiday season, your heart will overflow with joy.
That’s because no matter what extenuating circumstances you may be facing in life, the hope and promise of Christmas rings eternally true:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning .. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. – John 1:1-2, John 1:14
Remember The Reason For The Season
Sadly, many people no longer hold the joy of Christmas in their hearts.
Although Christmas is truly “the most wonderful time of the year”, many people have succumbed to a different gospel – the gospel of Madison Avenue.
The gospel of Madison Avenue is a gospel of consumerism. It revolves around Santa, elves on shelves, and a holiday shopping season that starts earlier and earlier each year. It seduces us with promises that if we decorate our homes impeccably, if we lavish presents upon our families and friends, if we cook perfect meals, then we will feel satisfied, happy, and content.
The problem with this false gospel is that it’s destructive.
The pressure to transform Christmas into a perfectly orchestrated event doesn’t bring families together. It draws them apart.
Parents can wear themselves down working extra hours to buy things their families don’t need while stressing over essentials.
We can become more like Martha – focused on the cares of the world – when we should be more like Mary – focused on Jesus.
We can seek happiness in external things – things that ultimately leave us feeling empty inside – when truly, only Jesus can fill the empty places in our soul.
The problem with this false gospel is that Madison Avenue completely eliminates Jesus – the Reason for the Season – from the picture!
Isn’t it time we take a stand and put Christ back in Christmas, where He belongs?
Put Christ Back Into Your Christmas
You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not suggesting that you become a Grinch or a Scrooge! There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with decorating your home, giving gifts, or preparing a special meal. It’s a delight to celebrate and enjoy Christmas traditions. Just give precedence to celebrating, commemorating and teaching your children what Christmas is really about.
Remember, God knows your heart. To keep the spirit of Christmas fresh and alive, look for Christ-focused Christmas activities that you and your family can participate in, and then invite your friends to these events! This is a great way to share the Good News with others, particularly those who are normally resistant to spiritual activities.
For example, we like to invite friends to “Back to Bethlehem”, a live re-enactment of the first Christmas that puts you in the heart of the action! Imagine what it would be like to be tending sheep on a cold starry night when an angel appears to you and says:
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.” – Luke 2:10-12
Imagine traveling from the solitary fields where you are surrounded by nothing but sheep to the bustling town of Bethlehem, where you are suddenly overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of merchants and townspeople and livestock. Imagine wandering from building to building until suddenly, you come upon Mary and Joseph, and the Christ-child lying in the 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. – Luke 2:17-18
Once you encounter Jesus, you forever carry Christmas in your heart.
This season, I encourage you to seek the Lord and experience Christmas in a fresh new way. When you understand what Christmas is truly about, nothing can ever take the Christ out of your Christmas.
The Very First Christmas
Since young children are the ones in our families who are most susceptible to the false gospel of consumerism – they do not understand the concept of advertising and embrace whatever messages are set before them – it is particularly important that we share the true meaning of Christmas with them at an early age.
Jan and Mike Berenstain, the creators of the beloved Berenstain Bears series, recognize this and have written The Berenstain Bears Get Ready for Christmas to remind young children about the birth of Jesus.
Children love the bear-themed illustrations that accompany the story and parents appreciate the story of how Brother, Sister, and Honey search the Bear family tree house to find their “bearloom” manger scene as they get ready for Christmas in their hearts and minds — focusing on the real Reason for the Season.
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What favorite Christmas traditions does your family celebrate each year? What new Christmas traditions are you incorporating into your family’s festivities? Please share your thoughts and stories in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!