I learned something about myself this Christmas season. As we were preparing for two Christmas Eve services and one Christmas Day service, I was realizing that I wouldn’t have as much time to be with my family this year.
Admittedly, I was really upset when I realized what this season would mean for our traditions and I started counting all the things I would miss, like cinnamon rolls at Mama DJ’s house Christmas morning, and seeing both sides of my family this year. I thought, Christmas is about being with family and celebrating each other and loving each other, so how is it OK that I miss that? When I type it out and put my thoughts and emotions out there, I think so many people share my immediate reaction, my instinctive values about Christmas.
I don’t think I’m alone in having these instinctive priorities and I think we’ll see the proof on December 25th! I know of quite a few churches who are cancelling Christmas day services. I know of these churches because I was jealous of them, and I was inwardly building my case for why we shouldn’t have church Christmas morning as well.
I don’t know WHEN it hit me that I was way off-base, but suddenly I realized that the one place I wanted to be on Christmas morning is in church. Yes, in the past our family has sometimes had private family worship in our home on Christmas morning, and sometimes we read scripture to remind ourselves what Christmas is all about. However, this year Christmas falls on the Sabbath day – the day the Lord set aside as Holy. It’s a day of double blessing I think, and although the church is not a building, in the building is where we all will gather, and being together is special – a miracle even.
Easter Sunday is one day of the year we all know is fully about Christ, yet somewhere deep in my heart I had lost the value that Christmas is all about Christ, and the fantastic gift of God the Father. It’s not about generosity, it’s not about family, it’s not about Santa, it’s not about helping the poor, it’s not about lights and hot coco and cinnamon rolls. Are these things bad? Of course not! BUT I would argue that somewhere along the line many of us have forgotten that Christmas is all about Jesus. Strip away the American Holiday and what do you get? Christ’s church celebrating the fact that God our Father sacrificed his own son and the first day of his master plan to redeem his people once and for all was set into motion. Wow. God with us… for the first time ever… and all the Angels were shouting Glory!
Today I ask you, have you made family the god of Christmas?
Have you removed Christ from Christmas and replaced it with gifts and loved ones?
Are you deeply invested in your relationship with God during this season or are you more deeply invested in getting the right gift for each person on your list?
Have you spent more time decorating your house than preparing your heart to be a living sacrifice to Him?
These are questions that have shocked me into repentance of what I’ve done to my Lord and how I have so easily given my family the throne. Not this year. Not anymore, God.
I pray that this year you will surrender again your whole heart and mind and soul to Christ the Lord, who came on Christmas day so that you could know him deeply. May you draw near to Him, forsaking all else, remembering that He is the whole purpose of life. Remember that relationship with Him is more important than anything else in all of eternity.
I said this to our serving teams in recently, but I encourage you to take the time to really thank God and meditate on the meaning of Christmas this year. Don’t miss it for the American tradition. Don’t let anything else be the center of Christmas other than Christ.
Mattthew 1:23 “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.”