Every year reminders resound to “remember the true meaning of Christmas” or “don’t forget what Christmas is really about.” Joining into the reminder chorus are the Scrooge sentiments, “I just want to skip Christmas because it has become too commercialized” and ones from our Elf-friend, Buddy: “Christmaaaaasssss!! I loooove Christmas!!! The hustle and bustle! The yummy treats! And the presents!!!” Certainly there must be a happy balance of serenity in the midst of this cacophony of moods.
My children are now at the age where they want to be involved in everything special and are formulating their own definitions of holidays and significant events. This has prompted me to ponder the traditions we want to create and why we want to create them. To determine this I have needed to return to the original meaning of each holiday in order to convey it clearly to these impressionable youngsters. I am thankful for the opportunity to do this because it has renewed my love for these beautiful days. Surprisingly, Christmas has been a unique challenge; there are so many potential traditions and meanings surrounding this holiday! The line between secular and religious has been blurred since we all appreciate the terms of ‘love, joy and peace.’ Why Christmas, then? What is it about Christmas that brings out such strong emotion? I have narrowed it down to three reasons.
~Christmas is about rescue. The world was a wretched, broken place when God took on the form of a human babe and created a link between the finite and the divine. The world is still a wretched, broken place and sinners still need a Savior, but Christmas is evidence that Jesus came to rescue lost and helpless sinners. It is now a season when we can rescue what is slipping away from us: lives, values and opportunity.
~Christmas is about rediscovery. Hundreds of prophecies were made about Jesus’s arrival centuries before His actual birth. However, His physical presence caused many to turn to the Scriptures and rediscover the truths that had been written about Him and God’s relationship with man. Christmas is still a time of rediscovery. It is a time to rediscover what is important to us, such as relationships and purpose, before closing out a year that we will never get back and beginning a new one.
~Christmas is about renewal. Israel had a tradition about waiting for the Messiah ever since His coming had been prophesied. But for many it was a tradition in word only. Christ’s birth and ministry on earth renewed the hope that had been lost over centuries of waiting. Once again God walked and communed with man. Millennia removed from the first Christmas, we can still renew our commitment to living life in a way that honors what matters most to us.
What do you need to rescue this Christmas? Or are you in need of rescue? What values need rediscovering in your life? What commitments need renewing? Perhaps holding on to these three aspects of Christmas may cause the Scrooge in us to perk up a bit and experience more of the longed for Christmas spirit; perhaps it can tone down our Buddy the Elf excitement just enough to remember that Christmas is deeper than gifts, lights and hot chocolate. Remember, Hope came at Christmas.