Remembering that the Messiah Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago is the reason Christians celebrate Christmas. He was born in humble circumstances with angelic hosts announcing his arrival to some poor shepherds working long hours in the lonely fields.
During this season when our task lists grow longer than usual and our stress levels may increase, it is easy to take our focus off the real meaning of this holiday. Watching the nightly news, a person might think that the most important task at hand once the Thanksgiving meal is over and cleaned up is to head to the stores to shop, shop, shop. We’re told when the stores are opening, where the best deals are, and what are considered the hottest gifts. This year, I noticed some stores were decorated for Christmas right after the school sales concluded. By December 25, won’t people be burned out on Christmas? When did we let commercialism get so out of hand?
I’d like to find good deals on gifts like anyone else. Who doesn’t want to stretch their dollars, but Christmas isn’t about the accumulation of stuff. I want Jesus to be my focus, not only from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, but 365 days per year. What can we take from the spirit of the season and emulate throughout the year? How would Jesus want us to remember his birth, and how would he want us to act?
Three ideas struck me. First, the generous spirit that abounds this time of year is a wonderful start. Many help the hungry and homeless and less fortunate before the year ends. Others buy extra toys and put them in bins or pick mittens off a giving tree and sneak a Secret Santa gift back to make Christmas more special for a child in needy circumstances. Donations increase for charitable giving and soup kitchens and pantries get better stocked.
Secondly, we count our blessings and express our gratitude to God and to people. We definitely need Him, and we certainly need each other for encouragement, support, help, and friendship. Many Christmas carols express praises to God and bring us joy.
Thirdly, the childlike wonder and excitement of the season is precious to see in children and reminds us that God desires childlike faith. We can take lessons from the young children in our lives and embrace Christmas and Jesus with the same pure innocence and enthusiasm.
Jesus is the Light of the World. As we embrace the beauty and goodness expressed this time of year, I hope we will look to Him as we enjoy the beautiful, twinkling lights, the music, the childlike wonder, and the blessing of sharing as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. I hope we may also take a bit of Christmas with us throughout the year and continue helping those less fortunate, expressing our gratitude, and living our lives with some childlike faith. Commercialism may try to distract us, but if we can quiet ourselves amidst the noise, we can still find and see some true celebrating and living, now and every day of the year.
God bless you all. Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!