Jesus Is the Reason...Period
Well, I think we are just about ready for Christmas. All the gifts are bought and boxed and… (oops, I was supposed to mail them yesterday!). Well, the decorations have all been put up… two strands of lights outside and a scrawny Wal-Mart tree inside. Angelynn gets home Friday; she’s the one who usually puts us all up the decorations, so she can take over. But maybe not so much this year-- Marley (her 100 lb German shepherd) probably would eat the decorations… and maybe even the tree! At any rate, I think we’re ready for Christmas. I am glad that this season of the year only comes once a year.
That is one of the problems with our traditional observance of Christmas. It is so seasonal. Most of the things we do during this time of the year we only do during this time of the year. It’s hard to get a good cup of eggnog and a decent slide of fruit cake in July. No one puts up fresh cut or fake trees in their house in March. And we seldom sing carols praising God for the birth of His Son in August. And if I preached a sermon series on the birth of Christ in October, that would seem a bit strange ("Why didn't he wait a couple of months...") . For many, the birth of Jesus and the meaning of His journey to our world is inexorably tied to this one season of the year.
I remember a conversation I had with my Mom around Mother’s Day. I remember it because we had it several times when I was a kid. I’d ask her what she wanted for Mother’s Day. And she would say, “Don’t get me anything; you just be a good little boy.” I hated that! I didn’t WANT to be a good boy; I wanted to buy her a present and be done with it! It’s a lot easier to buy some flowers or a card. Being good all the time is too hard!
The problem with the “True Meaning of Christmas” or the “Christmas Spirit” is that it seems OK to ignore them the rest of the year. Go to church, sing some carols, give some gifts, donate to charity, do some good deeds… and we’re done with Jesus for another year. If Christmas is special at all, then it must be special all the time. If Jesus really was Immanuel, God with us, then He is so all year around. If the baby in the manger really was God made flesh, then that changes everything. If it means anything, then it means everything. And the one thing we can’t do is give Him one day (or 12 days) a year.
Paul talks about the coming of Jesus into the flesh in Philippians— “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. ” (Philippians 2:6–7). But he says this to make a point. Pointing the Philippians of what we might today call “The Christmas Story” reminds them of the hold Jesus has on their lives and the responsibility they have to have His attitude in the way they treat one another—
“then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. ” (Philippians 2:2–4, NIV)
If the babe of Bethlehem really was God in the flesh, then that fact changes more than the holiday season. It changes everything about everything. Jesus isn’t the reason for the season—He is the reason. Period.