I love Christmas. Always have, always will, and am enjoying it this year, but to be honest with you, in many ways and for many people, Christmas has become a mess. The word Christmas actually came into usage before the 12th century and was a combination of two Old English words that would describe the coming of Jesus. The first word was Christus and the other word was mæsse referring to worship. It was the mass of Christ or the worship event of celebrating Christ’s coming. Maybe because of its origin and its significance, we can better understand the reason why the secular world, and the not Christian world, would prefer just to leave Christ and His worship out and in so doing turn Christmas into Christ-mess. I know probably all of us participate in the mess that we’ve created in part because our lives are so rushed, pushed, overloaded, and maybe underfunded that we get caught up in things that are not what Christmas is really about.
During this December I have tried to find some radio stations that were playing Christmas songs, and there were a number of them that I’ve found that were dedicated to playing Christmas songs all during the month. I’ve also found that you can listen for long stretches at a time and never hear a song that has anything to do with the adoration and the worship and the love of the Christ who came to give His life for us. My favorite most un-favorite Christmas song that I hear seemingly every day at least once or twice is the song about the Grinch. Where in the world did that become such a popular part of Christmas? The Grinch that stole Christmas, the grumpy old dude that didn’t want to have anything to do with anybody or the whole event of Christmas and yet again and again I have heard that song. Now, personally, I just have to tell you it’s a clever song, cute song, but it is not the essence of what we are celebrating that Jesus came to make a difference in our lives. That said, you can listen for stretches of time and not hear one song with any of the Christmas carols – “Joy to the World”, “Silent Night”, “Mary, Did You Know?” – old or new songs about Christmas are left out and it has become what the world has tried to make it be, just a Happy Holidays season.
I don’t have to belabor the point that for many of us who would long to have a personal, meaningful, enriching, uplifting experience with Jesus, it has become complex, cluttered, commercialized, controversial, and sometimes just downright wrong. Most of the advertisements that you see about Christmas are simply trying to get you to spend more and go in debt. Many of the things that are being advertised for you to be intrigued by have to do with getting that good feeling by consuming some form of alcohol. When all is said and done it is hard to find the Babe in a manger in the midst of all the things that we have made it. But while it may be a mess, it doesn’t have to be that way. It absolutely does not have to be consumed with all of the things that have swallowed it up, and you do not have to miss out on the wonder of Christmas even as it is presented in Scripture for us to behold and to experience. What can you do? Well, let me just suggest to you three things.
One – simplify. I know that’s not easy to do, but simplify. Step back for just a moment and realize that the original Christmas, the first Christmas, God’s Christmas, involved a lot of different people but mainly a man and a woman who were holding God’s Child, the Savior of the world. Even the manger scenes now have what looks like an arena of folks who’ve come that night, and while it may not have happened specifically like that, for the wise men got there later, and others who were searching for Him weren’t there at the stall, you and I can come to that kind of sweet, uncluttered encounter with God’s provisions for us for eternity. There it is in Him, the Christ child who came, born of a virgin, to die on a cross for our sins. Simply it. Find a place away from all of the noise and the ruckus, let your heart rest and bow before Him in a moment of blessing and need and provision from heaven.
Second – clarify. Two things I would clarify and that is to realize that what God did at that first Christmas, He was providing for you right now. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world;” you could write your name in just above that world, for He so loved you that He gave His only begotten Son. It was for the sins of the world that Jesus came to die, but you are the object of His love, His sacrifice, His care. So clarify what Christmas is in the sense that you come to understand that it is for you personally. It doesn’t matter who is reading this, in what part of the state you may be, or if this reaches you on the other side of the country. You could read this in an office or a prison cell. You could read this in a hospital room or a church, and it would be true that God sent His Son to die for your sins. I would clarify it in another way and this will affect all of us and that is to look at our relationship to Him, our daily walk with Christ, and where that stands at this Christmastime. It may be that you used to have a close relationship to the Lord and it just seemed as though He was as real to you as anyone else you had ever come in contact with, but now that relationship has grown cold, you’ve gotten distant – distant from Him – and today you need to stop and clarify the most significant relationship in your life needs to be that relationship with Him and it needs to be refreshed, renewed, invigorated, and enjoyed this Christmas. So clarify.
Third – multiply. Multiply the joy you have experienced in Christ this Christmas season. How long has it been since you personally shared with someone else the joy and the peace that has come because you have met Jesus Christ as your Savior? It’s not just a holiday event; it’s a personal encounter that you have known the joy of God flowing in your heart because He forgave your sins and gave you life that will never end. I wonder if you would ask God to allow you to be alert and ready, not just to give a gift to someone, but to share your joy in receiving the gift of God and to know the peace that passes all understanding.
It doesn’t matter if everyone’s Christmas is a mess. Yours doesn’t have to be, and so today spend a moment with the Lord about Christmas and simplify and clarify, then open your eyes and find someone who you can multiply your joy by sharing it with others. Merry Christmas and God bless you.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.