Growing up, I remember Christmas as a very magical time. Like most families, we had many traditions. Putting up nativity scenes, daily gatherings around an advent calendar, reading the Christmas story, and listening to classic Christmas music all promoted an air of something special. I remember most every room in the house having some sort of decoration and my mother painstakingly hanging tinsel (the old kind made of lead) strand by strand on a real Christmas tree. The smell of the Douglas fir and a seemingly endless array of fresh baked cookies only enhanced the magic of the days. As children we obviously were giddy about what we might receive on Christmas morning, but in my house at least, it was always tempered with a healthy recognition of the reason we were celebrating.
I miss the wonder of those days. As a suddenly middle-aged adult, much of the joy has been ripped away from the season. Advertisements bombard us for weeks encouraging us to celebrate by overspending and overindulging. People lose their minds and their manners as they desperately seek to obtain the hottest gift of the year. Peace and good will towards men has turned into chaos and every man for himself.
With so much emphasis on the giving of gifts, the ultimate gift has been left out and forgotten. We have lost the joy and wonder of the birth of Jesus. Without the resurrection of Jesus, we all would be doomed to spend eternity separated from God and forever suffer the consequences of our sinful actions. If not for His birth, there would never have been a resurrection at all. That makes the birth of Christ the most significant event in all of human history. His birth paved the way for our salvation. What greater reason could we ever have to celebrate?
We have lost the joy of Christmas. We have replaced a time of rest, reflection, worship, and awe with stress, traffic jams, irritation, and impatience. Most never even take the time to consider why we are celebrating. Satan has done a masterful job of getting us to forget we are celebrating the most joyous event in the history of man and having us focus instead upon our own greed and selfishness. He knows he can’t win, but he’s doing everything he can to make sure we don’t either.
As followers of Jesus, it is our mission to spread the love and joy of Jesus. There is no better time than during the Christmas season. Perhaps more so than any other time of the year, we have an amazing opportunity to model a different spirit. As others are overwhelmed by the crush of buying gifts and entertaining, we can be a light in the darkness. Let’s rediscover the joy of Christmas and live simply and humbly, demonstrating the peace and rest available through Jesus. Don’t forget the reason we celebrate. Rejoice in His love and shine brightly for all those who have lost the joy.