I was recently at a local restaurant waiting for my take-out order when I saw a mom and her young daughter walk in. The girl was probably only about two years old, but she stopped in her tracks once she entered the restaurant. She had this mesmerized look being completely in awe as though something she saw had just completely captivated her attention. I looked over and saw a small Christmas tree in the corner. Her eyes lit up. By this time, her mom was calling for her to follow. But she stood there, wide-eyed and said softly, “It’s booo-tiful,” and continued to gaze at this tree. In actuality, I hadn’t really noticed the tree until that moment, but indeed, it did have a certain charm about it. In that moment, I briefly thought what an adorable child, but also how precious it was to be able to see the world through the eyes of a child. And were there other things that I was missing out on appreciating its beauty because I was in a rush or preoccupied with other thoughts?
There are times that we must intentionally slow down and savor the beauty around us. This is true on several layers. Yes, God created the world around us, and there is beauty in His creation; appreciating it helps us to see how great our Creator is. Also, there is another aspect: the beauty of this season isn’t only found in the decorations all around us, but in the gift of Christ’s birth. And this is one of those areas that we may nod our heads in agreement saying we remember, but in practicality, we spend more time during the Christmas season decorating, shopping, and whatever else instead of celebrating the very reason we have Christmas. While the world may do its best to distort the meaning of Christmas or try to take away any Christian aspects from it, we must remember that we are celebrating our Savior.
Recently on our mission trip to the Philippines, we saw an abundance of Christmas decorations already up in the airport and malls. I saw a similar trend on previous mission trips to Thailand, Malaysia, and other countries. The decorations go up much earlier than they do here in the U.S. While there may be lots of Santa Claus and reindeer figurines, and fancy colorful lights, there tends to be a lack of anything related to the cross; no nativity scenes or anything related to Jesus. Apparently the message of Christmas has captured the rest of the world, but the message they heard was that this was a time to celebrate with decorations and presents. With the way that you celebrate Christmas, what message do you think you’re sending to others? That it’s about the presents, and it might be nice to tack on something about Jesus on the side, or is this really a time to celebrate the birth of our Lord and King.
I encourage you to not forget why we celebrate Christmas and make sure that the true message of Christmas is shared with others. For parents, spend time with your children emphasizing that we are celebrating Christ’s birth. Perhaps, set aside a family night with hot chocolate and other treats, and read the Christmas story together. It could become a fun tradition in your home. (By the way, if you have a fun way of celebrating Jesus at Christmas in your family, please email me about it at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can share it with our church family through Facebook.) I also encourage everyone to set aside some time to have a quiet one-on-one time with God praising Him and thanking Him for all that He has done in your life. At our church, we will be having the Christmas Cantata on Dec. 12 and 13 as well as a special Christmas Eve candlelight service. Invite friends and family to these events.
It's time that the message of Christmas is made abundantly clear: we are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ who humbled himself and came to be a sacrifice upon the cross. And because of His sacrifice, we may have life. “And the angel said to them, Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11, ESV). It really is good news, and plenty of reason to celebrate. Christmas: “It’s booo-tiful” because our Savior is born. Merry Christmas!