Yeah, it’s the usual end of year thing…a rush to complete a lot of stuff, planning parties, family get-togethers, presents still to be bought, gifts exchanged, road safety warnings, holidays, marriages, babies born, Christmas focused movie reruns, popular carol services, Christmas cakes, puddings and turkeys.
But it can also be a time of broken hearts as some tragedy strikes. Unexpected tsunamis, deaths, marriage break-ups, sicknesses, ongoing wars, car and home accidents, evictions, job losses, people feeling so lonely and unwanted…and other such sadness.
And for those without faith based on a solid Christian upbringing or background, it is a meaningless time – apart from a brief holiday and perhaps some parties and gift giving. For many, Christmas church activities and Christian’s beliefs about Christmas are a lot of ‘Rah, rah, rah, so what, who cares?’
Forgotten original meaning
In today’s busy commercialised world, the original meaning of this festive time is usually neither understood nor appreciated. Santa Claus or some other revered figure has replaced Jesus Christ! Christmas debt has replaced God’s free gift of a Saviour. The odd manger scene is cute but not understood. Commercialism has replaced the spirit of Christmas generosity.
New Age or occult teaching that we can save ourselves by looking out for number one has replaced the need of a God-provided Saviour due to universal sin.
Even some Christians don’t bother celebrating the true meaning of Christmas any more. Corporate and individual thanksgiving is neglected. Churches’ Christmas services don’t get the attendance figures they used to know.
The first Christmas gift
Yet Christmas is the second most important Christian event on the church calendar (Easter must always be number one!)
The Bible states that God valued the world so much that he freely allowed his Son, Jesus Christ, to become our Saviour so that we could find forgiveness of sins and a real satisfying and meaningful life through him. And so God sent Jesus from heaven to earth some 2000 years ago…the first Christmas gift as it were…because he cares for us and loves us.
God is good! He is love itself! He doesn’t want anyone being robbed of a good life and without any hope for eternity. He doesn’t want anyone living miserably. He wants to bless us all, give us support, and all kinds of security and help.
Most mature Christians realise that no one knows exactly when Jesus was born but that long ago it became traditional for believers to celebrate his birth at this time of year with joy and thanksgiving to God. A time to rejoice and relax with family and friends
Our giving of Chrissie presents is symbolic of God giving his present – the greatest present possible – his own Son, Jesus, to become our Saviour by dying in our place … the perfect and only substitute for the punishment we are guilty of through our sins, waywardness, rebellion and wrongdoings, even evil deeds.
What a gift! And what a hope for 2010 and the future! (if we will fully trust in a good and generous God!)
Despite financial recovery in some nations, we still live in uncertain times. Sicknesses, criminal acts, pornography, divorces where couples aren’t prepared to work on their problems, desertions, job insecurity and increasing subtle witchcraft. And in churches the rise of the notorious Jezebel spirit.
A lot of people have no real assurance of a good life at this festive season. And that’s sad!
Message of real hope
But the real Christmas story is one of hope for the Bible gives a promise of good news and hope…’Don’t be afraid! I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Saviour – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born tonight in Bethlehem…Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to all whom God favours’ (Luke 2:10, 11, 14).
That was the great and welcomed message God’s angels brought to troubled hearts all those years ago. Today the message of hope is still real. No matter what troubles us this Christmas, we can receive stupendous comfort, not from an angel but direct from the Lord himself. This can be your best Christmas ever!
Yet some people begrudge Christmas. They don’t understand its real meaning or why it’s so important to Christians – and to the world. While some misled people seek to remove or marginalise Christmas and not allow schools or stores to celebrate Christmas, it’s good to know that there are mayors, principals and government leaders that refuse to be influenced or pressured this way.
As we celebrate Christmas this year, let’s think of others. Let’s take God-given opportunities to share the real meaning of Christmas. Perhaps there’s some lonely person we can invite home or give a simple pressie to.
Remember when you’re saying grace for Christmas meals and gratefully receiving your own pressies, to joyfully give thanks for your and your family’s salvation through the greatest of all gifts – the Lord Jesus Christ.
And spare a prayer for those who do not know him or the real reason for the season.