When you think of Christmas, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Is it a tree? Ornaments? Tinsel? Peppermint bark? Mistletoe? Holly? Hot chocolate? A fireplace? Santa? Stockings? Snowflakes? Snow? (Shoveling your neighbor’s driveway?) There’s a good chance you immediately think of the presents you’ll get.
I know, the presents are really cool, right? I mean gift cards are awesome, presents are a surprise, and I even know a girl from play practice who would be thrilled to get socks for Christmas. Presents are awesome, there’s no doubt about it. And when people give you presents, it’s one way of saying they care about you.
But, I have to break it to you. Stuff doesn’t last forever. Those cool jeans that Nana gave you will eventually become too tight. The CD your best friend got you won’t be so hot twenty years from now. Those cute notebooks that your great Aunt May gave you will soon be filled with scribbles, doodles, and ideas. The gift cards will be spent before you can say, “Merry Christmas”, and the candy may last ON you, but if you’re anything like me, it won’t live to see the morning.
In today’s secular culture, Christmas (or, as a group of scrooges call it, “the Holidays”), is about getting together with family, about giving, and about some dude named Santa. So, let’s look into that. Yeah, presents are fun, but what about family?
God loves it when you get together with your family and have a good time simply being together. God loves it when you love others. Sadly, family won’t last forever, either – your big sis gets married, you go to college, your great grandma passes away. So what really lasts?
I know! Giving! God absolutely LOVES it when you give to others. It’s not your money, it’s not your stuff – it’s God’s money and God’s stuff that he’s letting you use. He loves you so much that he’d give you all that – why not show other people (and animals!) his love? God has given you money so you may use it wisely. Often, it’s more fun to give than to get. Unfortunately, the stuff you give (like presents, money, or candy) will go away. Is there nothing in this world that lasts?
Ooh, what about mistletoe? Did you know mistletoe is made by a bird called the Mistletoe Bird? It eats the mistletoe seeds, swallowing them whole, then flies to another tree and – um, excretes the seed. The seed it still whole and as if it had never been eaten. The bird then rubs its bottom on the branch, making the plant stick. It will grow to be mistletoe. But, mistletoe is a living thing. It will die. And, though it makes me uber sad, the mistletoe bird will die, too, and fly away into that big birdbath in the sky.
Ho, ho, ho! I’ve got it! SANTA lasts forever! The big guy is a LEGEND, I tell you! Everyone knows who he is! Even Martha Stewart believes in Santa! So old Claus here MUST last forever. Or does he…? Warning: this is not for the young at heart. We know that Santa, well, is just…. Aw, I hate to break it to you, but, he’s not real! There, I said it. It’s a great story, really. And maybe there was some fat guy in a tacky red suit who gave presents to kids. And maybe their was a Rudolph, and his nose just got scraped so it turned bright red and thus he became a legend as well. But all living bodies must come to an end.
This is really discouraging, isn’t it? Well, I guess I’m done writing now; my search for the meaning of Christmas has ended. Nothing lasts in this world. Gotta go muck the barn.
Whoa, hold on. Barn. Stable. Angel. Virgin. Carpenter. Manger. Baby. Savior.
Do these words mean anything to you? Well, barns certainly don’t last forever. Angels – hmm. Probably. Virgins? No. Carpenters? No. Mangers? No. Babies? (Those things turn into adults, who don’t live forever, btw.) But a Savior? Maybe…just maybe….
Jesus came to earth to save you and me and everyone who has ever lived and anyone who ever will be. He had a body, just like me (well, I’m guessing he didn’t look quite like me…). He was human.
So, bodies don’t last forever – we’ve figured that out by now. But Jesus wasn’t just human. Jesus is also God’s son – yes, an eternal, forever, everlasting being. Eternal. Savior. Cool, huh? Jesus is the reason we celebrate Christmas, because Christmastime is a symbol of his birthday. And nobody’s birthday has ever been more celebrated than his.
This year, though, I’m celebrating something else, too. Can you guess what it is? I’m celebrating ME. I’m celebrating YOU. Not because we’re destined to save the world. I’m celebrating US because WE are also God’s children! Jesus is God’s son, I’m God’s daughter, and you may be a son or daughter of God, too. WE are AWESOME! WE are created in God’s image. WE have a reason to celebrate because WE are special. Why are we so special? If you’re a Christian, you are my family. You are either my brother or sister in Christ. (I always thought I had an evil twin – JK!) And we are Christ’s family – HIS family! Nothing could be cooler!
At Christmas, though you may have never thought of it before, we are celebrating Jesus and each other. Because Christmas is a symbol not only of Jesus’ birth but of our own birth – our second birth, our real birth, when we entered God’s family. We’re celebrating the gift that God gave us – a SAVIOR!
So, there you have it. A gift. The gift of life. Of salvation. Of eternal, forever, everlasting, never-fading, new, wonderful life. A gift that won’t ever go away. Perfectly wrapped. It’s in your hands right now, because God has given it to you.
Well, what are you going to do with it? What do you do with a gift?