Even though it feels like late September outside, my calendar assures me that we are only days away from Christmas. It’s only December 18th, and yet most of the stores have put all their Christmas decorations on sale. There are still parties to go to, gifts to buy, and food to cook. Some of us have been listening to Christmas music since mid-November. By now, we are pretty caught up in the excitement of the season. I read that a house in Ohio uses over 45,000 lights and I wonder how all those lights can fit on one house and how long does the person putting up the lights have to spend on a ladder. I would run out of patience 30 minutes into that exercise. Nevertheless, I love Christmas. Christmas is the day we celebrate the day that Jesus Christ clothed Himself in flesh and dwelt among us. The day when the eternal Son of God emptied Himself and took on the form of a servant. I wonder why we don’t let that sink in more than just during Christmas.
But someway, somehow, all the passion and excitement of the birth of the Savior of the world seems to dissipate on December 26 and we begin a 330 day hiatus until next Christmas. We hide the Christmas playlist in iTunes. The smell of gingerbread is replaced by the smell of leftover Christmas ham. Good thing too. We need some rest after running all over the Emerald Coast or even neighboring states looking for the right gift. Add to that the the decorating, the entertaining, the cooking and cleaning. You still can’t believe all those people were really your relatives. You tell your wife, “I didn’t even know I had a cousin named Mike.” Then we are struck by the grim realization that we must find someway to pay all those holiday bills and that we must return to work or school.
God can get lost in the frantic pace of Christmas. But Christmas doesn’t have to be complicated. This Christmas at Northstar, we’ve tried to tone down the hype, lower the unreasonable bar of unattainable expectations, and encourage a simpler way of looking at and celebrating Christmas. It’s been so exciting for me to hear your stories of finding ways to simplify Christmas. The message of Christmas is simple, but only if we remember it, not only during Advent but all year-long.
There is nothing really complicated about the meaning of Christmas. Christmas means one thing, and everything within that one thing; that God loved the world so much that He sent His Son. That Jesus came to Earth, lived a perfect life, died and rose again, all to free me from sin and bridge the divide between mankind and God, allowing us to have a relationship with our creator. I sometimes have a hard time getting my arms around the fact that God sent Jesus for me, or that I can have a relationship with God. That relationship does not center around one calendar day, as you know.
I encourage you to remember a few simple messages after Christmas Day comes and goes. Remember that Jesus is God (John 1:1, 14; Colossians 1:15); that He created all things (Colossians 1:16); that He holds all things together (Colossians 1:17); that He is the head of the Church (Colossians 1:18); and that He was to be the ultimate sacrifice (Colossians 1:20). And this very same Jesus took the form of a human being. The Creator-God became an infant. Try to remember the baby Jesus lying in his manger 2000 years ago somewhere in Bethlehem and then I try to consider that, in that little package, the “fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:19).
For me that truth is absolutely life changing. It shows me that God cares. It shows me that God cares enough to actually enter into the situation. It shows me that He cares enough to actually lay down His own status (Philippians 2:6) and become Human. And that very same infant, whilst lying in His manger, was holding the very universe together (Hebrews 1:3).
As we move into 2013, I encourage you to remember the Almighty Creator, Lord and Sustainer of everything baby Jesus. And remember that Christmas is a lifestyle. There’s no deadline on December 25th, because it’s a 365-day endeavor.
Finally, I pray that you and your family are finding the simplicity of Christmas and filling your hearts and lives with all the love, joy, hope, peace, and happiness that Jesus Christ has to bring.