Well, well – can it really be December 2nd already? Yes! And we know what that means…..love ’em or hate ’em, the holidays are here!
Regardless of whether you are a lover of the holiday season, someone who dreads the holiday season, or someone who likes the holidays, but tends to get overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the season, we are all in this thing together!
The truth is that everyone has special feelings about the holiday season – good or bad. You see, for most people, the holidays loom larger than life – it is a complex and emotionally powerful time of the year.
The Christmas season could really be lumped into two categories of emotions. It is either a wonderful time of celebration, sparked with love, family togetherness, giving, cheer and joyful times – a season of delight. Or, it is a time of strain, sadness, isolation, loneliness, and feeling overwhelmed and disappointed…..a duty instead of a delight.
But despite our differences in opinions about Christmas, we all get pulled into the holidays in one way or another. In fact, the truth is, that Christmas is the largest celebration around the world every year. Think about it – every other holiday day of the year only gets one day, but Christmas gets an entire month (actually over two months really, thanks to our friendly retailers who try to jump start Christmas before Halloween even takes place).
But billions of people every year put aside their normal daily routines to decorate their homes, attend festive parties, shop for hours, mail Christmas cards, attend special church services, sing holiday music, watch holiday TV specials, travel and visit family that they rarely see.
Christmas sights, sounds and aromas fill the air everywhere you go, and it is practically impossible for any living human being, despite their religious beliefs, to miss the onset of the holidays.
Upon knowing all that, is it not absolutely astounding that the simple birth of a little baby boy in a manger, over 2000 years ago, out in the Middle East, is the root cause of all of this international celebration?
Is it not even more astounding that the entire holiday is a celebration of His birthday, but millions of people do not ever speak the name of the birthday boy at all? Or that millions of people celebrate a date on the calendar, without ever acknowledging the original reason for why the celebration began in the first place?
Is it not even more disturbing, that so many Christians, get caught up in the celebration, and often forget to focus on the birthday boy too?
Regardless of whether your opinion of the Christmas season is one of delight or duty, we can find ourselves easily distracted – if not by seasonal busyness, by life circumstances.
Maybe you are excited about kicking off the holiday season, but maybe you cant find any reason to celebrate at all. In either case, we can easily lose focus on why we are supposed to be celebrating. Lets take a quick look at an excerpt of the Christmas story from Luke:
Luke 2:8-14 (NIV)
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
Did you notice what the angel said in verse 10? The angel said he/she was bringing “good news of great joy for ALL people”. It does not say, great joy – for all those people whose lives are perfect; great joy for everyone who had a terrific, trouble-free year; for only those people who have not made mistakes; for only those people whose marriages are intact, whose children are divine, whose financial situation has survived the recession; for only those people who have secure employement; and for only those people who are healthy, and who do not have any loved ones suffering with health problems.
Nope – the angel said GREAT JOY FOR ALL PEOPLE. Seriously? Have you ever found yourself wondering at Christmas, if that type of great joy is even possible?
Christmas is supposed to be a time of great celebration, jubilation and joy – not because life is great, problem-free, or without difficulties, but because God divinely arranged this joyful birthday party.
Great joy, because God promised it, not because we deserve it. Great joy, through His peace, not through peace on earth. Great joy – if we embrace it, instead of considering the dozens of personal reasons why we cannot be joyful.
Usually when we go to a birthday party, we watch the person whose birthday it is, open all the gifts. But at this party, we get to open gifts too! Whoo hoo!
Through the birthday of Jesus Christ, we are given some very special gifts. Gifts that impact our hearts. Gifts that change our lives. Gifts that change our destinies. Gifts that impact our life on earth. Gifts that determine our eternal life.
So how do we get past our own myriad of emotions, our own inclination towards busyness, and our inability to find joy, and focus our hearts on the real reason for celebrating? What can we do to truly remember to celebrate the Reason for the season, and not just celebrate the season?
I think the answer lies in opening gifts. No, not gifts from under our Christmas tree, but the gifts that lie under Gods Christmas tree.
These precious gifts are all laid out for us in one special bible verse.
One verse that justifies and solidifies everything in the bible.
One verse that is the reason for all the anticipation of holiday fever that we get each year.
One verse that summarizes the entire reason that we celebrate Christmas.
Do you know what that verse is? Give it some thought, and let me know your opinion. What better way to prepare our hearts for Christmas than to ponder the verses that offer us the greatest promises?
Come back tomorrow as we begin to delve into the scriptures and start some serious unwrapping of some very special packages, that most definitely give us reason to celebrate.