Robert and Maureen McQuillan remind readers of the real reason for the season – lost people need to be saved!
‘Jesus is the real reason for the season,’ Oh that phrase sounds a cliché these days – after all it’s been around for decades in Christmas cards. We can recall first adding it to blank cards some 30 years ago, as well as reminding congregations.
But it’s still a reality! For years Christmas has been regarded as merely a festive season, a holiday break for many in the workforce…tradies particularly love this seasonal closedown time. ‘Happy Christmas’ has been substituted by ‘Happy Holidays’ on many cards.
Christmas is special!
For decades now Santa Claus has replaced the advent of our Saviour Jesus as the central focus of Christmas. Christmas has become ‘Xmas’ – as if Christmas has been cancelled out and without meaning. People have always regarded Christmas as a special time of family, fun, food, cards and presents… but the birth of Jesus remained central until some decades ago.
We ourselves particularly recall some Christmases as special and precious…
• Weeks of carols in shops and expressions of genuine Christmas/New Year wishes
• Christmas Day mornings back home in the UK awakening early to faithful carol singers from a local church gathering under a street light in the snow and warmly heralding the birth of Jesus.
• Then the traditional gleeful opening of presents and the excitement following.
• Soon we’d be hurrying off to early church for a down-to-earth service that highlighted the arrival of the Saviour of the world who came to bring peace to earth.
• The Christmas Day luncheon and family fun together.
• And … most especially… that best Christmas morn of all when our daughter Wendy was born!
No mythical Christmas sidetracking
We’ve always been a little different from a lot of other families …we never deceived our kids by perpetuating the Christmas myth of Santa coming down the chimney with gifts, that it was their parents who caringly and lovingly provided special presents, and that while Christmas was a family time it is meant to be one of thanking God for his great gift of the Saviour, Jesus. The result is that they’ve always known that they could fully trust us in everything we’d say or tell them.
We went out of our way to make sure that they enjoyed themselves and had presents and fun at Christmas time. But we also ensured that they would never catch us out in any lie or deceit. They knew what the meaning of ‘the real reason for the season is Jesus Christ’ is all about … that even though one can’t ‘see’ the Saviour, he is real, can be believed in and fully trusted.
Living a life of faith and trust in Jesus all year round gave them an example that would help lead them to making their own decision to follow him.
But we also took them to see Santa in stores so that they didn’t miss out, even if it meant sacrificing personally! They knew in their hearts it was all a fun and family time. We even repeatedly enjoyed together that old classic Maureen O’Hara and John Payne Christmas movie, Miracle on 34rd Street, played on TV year after year back then.
Celebrating God’s gift of Jesus and salvation
Christmas is not all about gift-giving, holidaying, food and fun. Nor is it about spectacular musical church productions. Nor about arguing, as some Christians do, that Jesus wasn’t born on December 24 as no one really knows when he was, therefore church leaders are deceiving attenders.
It’s about celebrating the fact that Jesus came at all! He didn’t have to! God could have wiped out humankind because of our sins – as he threatened Moses he’d do and create a new generation who’d obey him and honour his commands (Deut. 9:14).
Praise God for the incarnation of Jesus (Isaiah 9:6, Luke 2:14)! Through the incarnation (the conception of Jesus in Mary’s womb), the second person of the Trinity willingly came to earth as a human to become our Saviour at Calvary, to rescue a lost world from sin’s penalty and from Satan’s power, to show God’s love and Father heart and compassion. We call it grace!
Our second best Christmas memory…
And we also passed this knowledge of the truth of Christmas onto our granddaughter, Bonnie-Jane. That the central meaning of Christmas is that Jesus came to save sinners through our repentance of sins and acceptance of him as Saviour, that everyone is lost without the salvation he offers, that he is the greatest ‘Christmas gift’ of all.
We will never forget the Christmas we took our little, delightfully happy and pleasant granddaughter, then five, to see Santa in a Myer store. Her eyes were popping wide at the colourful decorations and she was enjoying the carol music. But Santa, it seemed, was missing, nowhere to be found.
Then the music stopped abruptly and above the noise of busy chattering shoppers, a serious-sounding message was heard on the store tannoy…’Calling Santa, calling Santa Claus…where are you, Santa?’
Although Bonnie-Jane didn’t say anything her expression indicated she was concerned. Just then, as we were passed an elevator, the doors swung opened and there was Santa in full flowing beard and gear.
Suddenly spotting him, little Bonnie let go off our hands, instantly rushed over to him and grabbing his legs hugged the plump jovial figure close and exclaimed, ‘I found you, Santa. You were lost but I found you, I saved you!’
What does the Bible say about ‘out of the mouths of babes’…? (Matt. 11:25, Psa. 8:2). It’s our joy to know that today, now a delightful young lady sensitive to the Holy Spirit, Bonnie allows him to lead her to many people with needs, even in the heart of her major city, and to boldly help them relying on the Spirit (See Maureen’s Generational article).
Yes, everyone needs salvation; even Santa
Germany’s largest supermarket chain surprised its shoppers with a seasonal treat. Livening up the boring chore of grocery shopping, cashiers opted to delight their patient shoppers with a choreographed orchestra that beeped the season’s classic, Jingle Bells. Link: http://tinyurl.com/lptgzqv.
It’s great that several stores around the world have run similar unexpected lively events. We particularly love this one hosting Christian carols and songs really centring on the birth of Christ the Saviour, encouraging shoppers to join in the gospel message and wrapping up with a Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus centrepiece that had people bowing in respect. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7baFMmSv4k.
And how about the USAF band suddenly appearing one by one starting with a single cellist in the National Air and Space Museum’s Milestones of Flight gallery, and swelling to 120 musicians to magnificently render Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring/Joy to the World? Link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/-cKE8pyfcZc
• Thank God that he sent his Son, Jesus!
• Thank God for the biblical recounting of his birth such as in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.
• Thank God for churches and schools willing to highlight the real truth the Christmas message when enemy forces are trying to ban Christ-centred Christmas seasons.
The world is in a real mess currently – sin is still the major problem and only the Saviour has the answer. We trust that Christians will not be self-centred this Christmas but be caring and praying for the unsaved.
We just happened to find the following image by accident – it’s the first time we’ve ever seen something depicting the world’s Christmas centrepiece acknowledging God’s centrepiece!
The world may be dark today… may Christians who know and trust God get it right this Christmas! Let’s witness Christ – the light of the world.
Links: / Generational – Maureen McQuillan’s The Very Centre of Kingdom Life / Focus – Jim McClure’s The Light of Hope / Opinion – Stephen Hanna’s The Forgotten Tree / Inspirational – David Hodgens’ Peace on Earth? / Engaging the World – Ed Delph’s Christmas – the Perfect Rescue Mission / Various TheBuzz items