Merry Christmas! As the packages are opened, the Christmas breakfast is eaten and the festivities of Christmas take place today, I wonder how will take a moment to think about the reason we celebrate Christmas? It isn’t to see who can spend the most, or have the highest pile of gifts. It isn’t too see how many lights we can place on the outside of our home and on our Christmas trees. It isn’t even to see how many batches of cookies and fudge we can make. While those are fun (I enjoy participating in most of them) and it is heartwarming to see families gathering and spending time together, the real reason has somehow gotten lost in all of the commercialism of Christmas.
Let’s take a moment and read the Christmas story as it is written in the King James Version of the Bible in Luke 2:
2 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, everyone in his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
I could write for days on the meaning of this story but I want you to think about a few of things while you are celebrating with your family today.
- The Lord brought his Son into the world in a barn because the inn was full. There were no doctors, no midwives, and a fancy delivery room. Mary didn’t pack the newest, most absorbent diapers, an adorable outfit, and a monogrammed blanket to wrap him in. She didn’t have high-tech monitors and cups of ice chips to eat during her labor. Her mom was not there to hold her hand. The Son of God was born of a virgin in a stable, wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed into a manager. It was such a humble beginning.
- Jesus received three gifts. The Son of God was given three gifts. As you look at your tree this morning, how many gifts will each member of your family receive? As a society, we have commercialized Christmas to the point that we spend money that we don’t have on presents that the receiver probably doesn’t even want. Can you imagine going back to a simpler time and purchasing only three gifts for our children? Perhaps 1. Something they want 2.Something they need 3. Something to read.
I would love to see the world go back to simpler times. I would love to see more family get-togethers. I would love to see more children riding bicycles and playing outside during the summer months. I would love to see the crime rate drop and to feel safe in our own homes and neighborhoods. Most importantly, I would love to see Christmas celebrated as a celebration of the birth of Jesus, and not black Friday sales.
Have a wonderful day with your families and friends, and don’t forget to take a moment and say, “Happy Birthday, Jesus!”