‘Tis the season to be jolly, Fa la la la la la la la la…” This week, I’ve been watching many holiday films. Some were traditional classics like “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and “A Christmas Carol,” while others were new, soon to be fan favorites such as “The Star,” “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure,” and “Prep and Landing.” Each of these stories shows in some way, shape or form the true meaning of Christmas. If you recall when the season first started, I’d written about this before in a post titled, “To Buy or Not To Buy: Are You Really In The Holiday Spirit???” Today, I want to focus specifically on the Spirit of Christmas.
Time and time again many of us tend to get swept away into the modern day focus of Christmas which has become about decorations, trees, Santa Claus and buying and receiving gifts. With this custom, I think we’ve allowed the true meaning of Christmas to get lost in translation. After dealing with the holiday rush, hustle and bustle of traffic on the roads and all around hectic push and pull of getting around the world to see loved ones, we’ve become exhausted and overwhelmed by trying to meet the demands of this commercialized season. If you are like myself and Charlie Brown, you’ve taken up the approach of feeling like Christmas is just not worth the headache thereby counting down the days to its end. Fortunately for me, after the week I’ve just had where I’ve personally dug deeper into the meaning of what this season is all about, I dare now say let no one become an Ebenezer Scrooge this holiday season.
“All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).”
(Isaiah 7:14 NLT)
I needed to be reminded of what this season was all about. I, too, was getting so worked up on gift giving and what to buy that I was starting to dread the holiday. I’m not looking nor expecting any gifts; however, due to holiday parties and whatnots, I’ve felt overwhelmed with the pressure to spend. That’s because I was focusing solely on the gifts and my budget and less on what the gift giving actually means.
“After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
(Matthew 2:9-11 NLT)
We give gifts because the wise men gave gifts to Jesus, the one and true king, when he was born in Bethlehem. We do not give gifts for the sole purpose of fulfilling people’s monetary desire for more, bigger and larger portions of things. When the wise men gave gifts, they gave what they had. It was the best of what they had; nonetheless, they gave from their hearts. The Bible says they gave gifts of frankincense, myrrh and gold. Note they did not scurry and go broke trying to buy larger homes, bigger flocks of camels or sheeps or the latest technological advances of their time. They didn’t buy gifts for themselves or to share amongst one another. No, they gave from the heart to complete strangers and it was the best of what they had to offer.
Thinking of the times they lived in, one would see that their gifts made sense. They gave to Jesus and his parents Mary and Joseph the kind of gifts a new family would need to start their lives together. None of these things were written down on a special list presented by Mary and Joseph as gifts they wanted for Christmas. They did not ask for more stuff to add to their collection nor did they bargain to get the best deal to buy things for themselves. They didn’t have much nor did they ask for anything. The greatest present they could’ve ever wanted and needed was gifted to them already. It was their love for each other and their love for their bundle of joy wrapped in God’s own glory, known as Jesus Christ.
“And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.”
(Luke 2:6-7 NLT)
With December 25th literally right around the corner, I want to remind people what the spirit of Christmas truly means. It means spending time with family, sharing a meal with smiles of happiness, laughter and the loving warmth of joy, kindness and compassion. It means giving meaningful and useful gifts to people in need. This holiday is in fact a birthday celebration unlike any other. As such, we should treat it with the utmost respect, decency and reverence it truly deserves. A Savior will be born. A king of kings will overtake this earth. A Lord of lords will teach and resurrect a nation. His name will be remembered all around the world, forever transcending time itself. What a wonderful name and gift we have in JESUS CHRIST!!!
“He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!””
(Luke 1:32-33 NLT)
So let’s honor our king in the ancient way it was meant to be honored: surrounded by family in a humble place under the stars. Spend time with your family and loved ones this holiday season. Share hugs and joys of laughter. Give comfort to those who need comforting and food to the poor. Feed the animals. Clothe the naked. Provide shelter to the homeless. Cook a meal for your family (or if you can’t cook, take them out to dinner). Above all else, share stories about the goodness of Jesus Christ and what His birth means to you.
This is His day. This is His moment. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Stress not on how much you spend. Feel no guilt on whatever gifts you chose to give from the heart and don’t go broke trying to please people for this day is not about them. Give what you can and be thankful with the time spent. Be content in all that you have expecting nothing but God’s grace, love and mercy. “Don your gay apparel” and sing psalms of joy and praise for the new king is born in Bethlehem.
I pray today for the true spirit of Christmas to enter all of our hearts. If you’re reading this, then I know the Lord’s been good to you. He deserves all of the honor and praise. May the precious gift of Jesus Christ penetrate deep into our hearts and let it keep us grounded, reminding us all of who this season really is about and why it’s so important. Lord, we know we tend to get caught up on the exchanging of gifts so much so that we at times tend to forget all about you. We apologize for this. Teach us your ways as we continue to be reminded each and every day what your birth truly means to us. May this Christmas be unlike any other. May our hearts be filled with love. May we give wholeheartedly and share all that we have with those who have nothing. Let us enjoy the meals we share with our families and give you all the respect, praise and honor your birthday commands. In your precious, wonderful, miraculous name of Jesus Christ, I pray Amen. Be at peace my family in Christ and Have a Very, Merry Christmas.
Sincerely with love,
Travel photography by IG user: @glcallan via @visitphilly