The holiday season always starts off with a bang on Black Friday, although this case it was Thursday, as crowds of people shoved and fought their way through Walmarts, Targets and other stores in hopes of landing some low-priced deals. Watching the pushing, shoving, arguments and even fights, makes one wonder where the jolly people are. Then you have the effort to remove the word Christmas from the holiday lexicon because it offends people who are not religious or are atheists. People blurt out happy “holidays” as if Thanksgiving and the New Year is as significant as Christmas. Then you have people who are worried about how to buy gifts without going into more debt, not to mention attending all those Christmas get togethers with family members you do not find very interesting. If you are not careful, Christmas can become stressful and a hassle you don’t need.

Our hectic lifestyles has diminished our ability to pause and reflect on the real meaning of Christmas. Look at two Bible passages: Colossians, 2:6-7 says, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” And 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 adds, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

The apostle Paul asks us to enter the Christmas Season (every season) with our hearts truly slowing down enough to reflect on and to give thanks to God for the child who was born to die for our sins, our Savior Christ Jesus. Doesn’t that fill you with wonder, that Jesus came to the earth for the purpose of becoming the Lamb of God who would take all our sins away.

No one minds losing the stress that Christmas can create. And most people would not miss a few less gifts or worry that much whether a person says Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. But where we would be without Jesus? I do not think it would be a pretty picture. Because of Jesus’ birth, we have the promise that God loves us far more than we can begin to imagine. Yet, we don’t stop to reflect on that incomprehensible truth.

A truly meaningful Christmas comes not by what we say or do. It isn’t anything we can produce or purchase. It isn’t reckoned by the number and value of presents given or received. A truly meaningful Christmas happens only when we realize that without Christmas, none of life would have meaning.

Christmas becomes meaningful when we quit trying to bend it into our own shapes and instead let it shape us. Having a meaningful Christmas means having the knowledge that nothing we can give God could ever match His Gift to us — all the while seeking new ways to offer our thanksgivings by offering ourselves to Him in thought, word, and deed.

How will you celebrate Jesus’ birthday this year? Hopefully it will include some reflection.

Discussion Questions
1. What in your mind constitutes a meaningful Christmas? What is the best way to celebrate Jesus’ birthday?
2. What would Christmas be like without Jesus?
3. Pray and reflect each day during the Christmas season about the cross of Christ not just a baby in a manger.