Invitation to Rest

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The Reason for the Season

Many years ago I took a business trip to Bangkok, Thailand in December.  Thailand is over 95% Buddhist, so I was shocked to find so many Christmas decorations around the city.  There were even Christmas carols playing in the lobby of the hotel. It turns out the people enjoy the pageantry and shopping but do not celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. 

We recently watched the Christmas classic, A Miracle on 34th Street.  Created in 1947, the theme of the movie was how commercialized Christmas had become and people were missing the true meaning of Christmas.  Santa was put on trial for goodness sakes! 

Even the movie though, talked of “Christmas Spirit” (aka Santa Clause) and missed the real meaning of Christmas. 

What is Christmas All About?

There has been a struggle for some time to celebrate Christmas for the right reason! Several years ago, a billboard campaign was started with the slogan “Keep Christ in Christmas” to combat the secularization of Christmas and to promote that Jesus, not Santa, not presents, not fancy decorations, as the real meaning of Christmas. 

But even before that campaign, we saw this struggle for understanding the real meaning of Christmas portrayed in the classic “Charlie Brown Christmas” when Charlie Brown infamously asks the question “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” 

Linus takes the stage and answers the question with the beautiful account written in the book of Luke: 

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:8-14

What a simple and beautiful description of what Christmas is all about.  I love Christmas time.  I enjoy decorating the house, watching the traditional Christmas shows and movies, and listening and singing Christmas songs all month long.  It is fun to buy, and wrap presents for the ones I love.  There are so many wonderful memories around Christmas and spending time with family.  And yet, if that is what Christmas is all about, I have missed the point.  Without Jesus, there is no Christmas.  I can’t even fathom what this world would be like if Jesus never came.  This world would surely be unrecognizable to us.  

The message of Christmas is transformational.  God, the creator of the universe, who wants to be known as Father, who has pursued mankind in love since Adam and Eve first sinned, sends His one and only Son to live the perfect life, to take on all of our sins and burdens and nails them to the cross.  He dies a brutal death and raises from the dead, defeats the curse of death and presents the opportunity for all of mankind to experience the unconditional, eternal love of the Father.  A love so pure and perfect, a love at the depth of our soul that we are really crying out for.  That is what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown! 

The REAL Reason for the Season

Christmas is all about Jesus.  But is Jesus really the reason for the season? I understand the sentiment of that statement and desire to make sure we do focus on Christ during Christmas.  But if you think about the reason of Christmas, the answer is pretty profound. Christmas is about Jesus coming.  But why did He come?  What is the reason for this season?  The reason for the season is YOU!  The reason for the season is me and all of humanity. The reason He came was for us!  He didn’t come to show off His glory, though He is glorious.  He didn’t come just to show off by performing all kinds of signs and wonders, though He is miraculous.  He didn’t pull off the greatest miracle of all by raising from the dead to prove He is God, even though He is!  No, God had the expressed intent of sending Jesus to earth for one reason alone; because He loves you and desires an intimate, relationship with you. Jesus said so Himself: 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

John 3:16-17

David Meece wrote a wonderful song in 1980 about Christmas and he summed it up beautifully in this refrain: 

 

And we are the reason that He gave His life 
We are the reason that He suffered and died 
To a world that was lost, He gave all He could give 
To show us the reason to live 
He is our reason to live 

Yes, Christmas is all about Jesus. It is so important that we keep our focus on Him as we go thorugh all of other wonderful traditions and experiences that Make Christmas so special.  But let us also remember that we are the reason for the season.  

See what kind of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God; and we are.

1 John 3:1

Practice

We have been given the greatest Christmas gift; an eternal, unconditional love relationship with a  a good, glorious, holy, and kind heavenly Father. As you enjoy all of the activities that make Christmas special, I pray the magnitude of this gift fills your heart and soul with indescribable joy. I wish all of you a Very Merry Christmas!

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