Since the beginning of the biblical record, God promised God’s people that someday He would dwell among them. No more wondering what God is like, no more wondering if God really cares, because with the coming of this Child of Promise we can each know that God understands us. We can be assured that God identifies with our problems, sorrows, hopes, frustrations, and joys. God knows us so well not because He made us, not because He is all knowing, but because He became just like us – he became one of us – a person like you and me. As one of us He can show us the way to heaven, and make sure that we each get there.
Christmas is about the promise of God’s presence among us. But we’ve still go a problem don’t we. What can we do about the way things are today concerning the crass commercialism and the fact that so many people have lost sight of the true meaning of Christmas?
I saw a 1998 survey that said that only 34% of Americans believe there is any religious meaning to Christmas at all.
In Japan, which is only 2% Christian, over 60% of the people there celebrate Christmas. Santa Claus and gift giving has become big business in Japan.
What are we going to do about that? Let me offer four things each of us can do to about this situation.
First, REMEMBER the true meaning of Christmas.
Do this by making your Advent season a time of spiritual preparation for Christ’s coming. Some of us have lists – decorate tree, buy gifts, clean house, cook food. Here’s a guarantee from me to you. If you’ll be as intentional about your spiritual preparation for the season this year as you are about all the other aspects of it, you’ll have a wonderful Christmas.
Second, REJOICE in the gift and the season.
Christmas is a season of joy. Some Christians I know go around with gloomy faces because commercialism has “stolen” Christmas – that’s the wrong attitude! Christians, above all others, should be rejoicing and decorating and celebrating this season. So what if some expert claims decorating Christmas trees is a holdover from pagan culture, or that the date of Christmas is a date borrowed from a Druid festival – it’s OUR holiday! Jesus IS our reason, so let’s celebrate!
Third, RECLAIM the season with great love and compassion.
This kind of goes with rejoicing (above), but I separated it because I want you to please notice that when we reclaim the season, we need to be compassionate about it and not beat folks over the head with the fact that Jesus is the reason for the season.
Look for creative ways to witness to non-believers about the true meaning of Christmas. Studies have shown that people are more spiritually open during this time of the year – consider the time an opportunity for a great harvest for God. But realize that you’re not going to do so if you give someone a dirty look and scold him or her for leaving Jesus out of the picture.
Finally, RESPOND to the Christ-child yourself; welcome the Son of God into your heart and into your home.
I read about a pastor who was walking down the hallway of an assisted living center looking at the Christmas decorations that residents had made for their doors. The decorations were small and were not very complicated or expensive. They’d probably been made in a craft session there at the center. A few were obviously variations on a single pattern. But one was very different. It had no tinsel; no colored Christmas seals. It looked more like a place card with just a few decorative pen strokes. It read simply, “Welcome, Lord Jesus.”