Christmas is, at the same time, wonderful and dangerous. Christmas beckons us to joyously celebrate, but when the celebrations overshadow the true meaning of the holiday, we can too easily go from simply enjoying the festivities to worshipping the feeling we get from the celebrations. Christmas is, of course, about the Savior’s birth; the one thing that made true joy and everlasting peace possible. So how can Christians celebrate Christmas while keeping the gospel of Jesus Christ prominent? It begins with perspective and ends with intentionality.
When Luke tells us, through the words of the angels in Luke 2:8-14, that the birth of Christ is “good news of great joy”, he wasn’t speaking metaphorically. Jesus’s birth brings joy: real, true, and actual joy. Joy, (i.e. contentment and rejoicing) is a major theme in the Bible. Biblical characters such as David, Solomon, the Ninevites, the Israelites, Jesus, Zechariah, Simeon, Anna, the wisemen, Peter, Paul, and even the angels are all described as “joyful” or “rejoicing” at some point in the Scriptures. The issue then, is not whether or not we ought to be joyful, that’s clear. The issue is what is the cause of our rejoicing?
Now, before I go any further I need to make a few confessions. I love Christmas. I love everything about it. My house, during the month of December, looks like a Christmas village you might see in a Hallmark movie. The movie list that plays in our house reads like a Who’s Who of all-time great Christmas movies. We watch everything from Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to It’s A Wonderful Life and White Christmas. We eat more Christmas cookies and sweets during the month of December than we do during all the other 11 months combined. My family loves Christmas.
Yet, (and I am in no way saying we have done this perfectly), each one of my kids could tell you the real meaning of Christmas. They know the Christmas story. The real one. They know who Jesus is and why he came. They know that Joseph was from the house and lineage of David and that’s why they went to Bethlehem for the census. They know there was no room in the inn. They know what gold and frankincense are (no one knows what myrhh is, am I right?) How do they know all this? It’s because we tell them. We continually tell them. Their grandparents tell them. The pastors at our church tell them. Their Sunday School and Awana leaders tell them. Our growth group tells them.
Amidst the celebrations we must be intentional with the gospel and the truths of Christmas to those in our lives. We must tell them that we are only able to rejoice and celebrate ultimately, because of what God has done. All of the biblical characters mentioned above rejoiced because of the work of the Lord. Christmas is no different. God took on flesh. That truth must remain prominent in our lives during Christmas. In fact, it goes further than merely ourselves, we must tell the good news of Christmas to others. The thing is, it’s okay to drink eggnog and wear a Christmas sweater while doing so.