What does Christmas Really Mean?
When I was young, Christmas was about Santa coming down the chimney and giving me more gifts than I would receive on any other day during the year. It meant the numerous friends that would come by my parents’ house and celebrate all day Christmas Eve. It meant red and green bread (yes, really) and eggnog and my mom’s cheesecakes and fudge. It meant going to church and sitting as a group and joking around with friends and family (I was a little irreverent when I was a kid).
I spent my childhood knowing all of the stories. My parents even shared both “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and the Bible story of Christ’s birth (Luke 2:1-20). Neither of those stories ever really resonated with me until much later in my life.
I always knew (or thought) that Christmas was just another day, just with a lot more celebration…and I never was much of one for parties.
Those feelings changed at two separate times in my life.
The whole Santa thing changed when I had kids of my own. For about 7 or 8 years, Santa was the reason my kids woke up every 12/25 and the reason I stayed up into the wee hours of the night on 12/24. My now ex and I would go to church, enjoy the music, come home, put the kids down, and begin the task of pulling the gifts from the spare bedroom and setting them up under the tree.
Santa was real.
I enjoyed playing the role. I even went outside and threw “reindeer poop” in the yard so the kids knew that they weren’t forgotten by the big man in red.
It wasn’t until my divorce that the second, more important, purpose of Christmas became apparent. The kids were older and didn’t believe in Santa anymore. I was in my own place and I only had the kids on Christmas Eve, not Christmas Day.
It was on that first Christmas alone that I read the Christmas Bible story myself. And I don’t just mean skimming it. I mean for real. Intense, in-depth study. I now had SOOOOO many more questions. Questions about how God orchestrated the entire birth. Everything from the couple He chose to the place to be born to even diverting the evil plot to destroy the King before He could talk.
When one takes a serious look at Luke 2, we see a God who knew what He was doing. He knew that His Son was being sent to become a sacrifice for the people who constantly hurt Him, cursed Him, and turned away from Him.
When I finished studying it and praying over what I read, I realized that much of our culture’s practices for Christmas have some very close ties to what God did. You see, we humans spend a lot of our time and money, aspects that are difficult for us to sacrifice, trying to show our love to those who consistently hurt us, curse us, and turn away from us.
Christ is real. He was an actual God-man who lived over 2,000 years ago and came to save humanity from its sin.
But God showed us something more in Christmas. He showed us a model for how to be sacrificial in our love. He showed us what true love is and, as Christ teaches later in His earthly ministry, commands us to show it.
So whether you go out and spend thousands on your loved ones this Christmas or if you simply take time off work that you never intended so that you can spend it with your family, be sure to share the Christmas story from the Bible.
And don’t just share it.
Make a pact to keep the Christmas story alive in your lives until you are called to paradise.
And share a little of God’s love….God’s sacrificial love….with those you are closest.