‘Christ’ in Christmas?: Churches of Christ and the holiday season
For many members of Churches of Christ, Christmas once meant…
‘Joy to the world, the Lord is come.”
I love Christmas and all the traditions — especially the sweets and the meals. I have special delight in watching children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren enjoying the season and the gifts.
But I have always felt conflicted about Christmas — with thoughts of Santa Claus bringing presents and the tradition of celebrating Christ’s birth.
This time of the year makes me aware of man’s lost condition — and the horrific, heart-wrenching reports from Tennessee, Las Vegas and Texas only reinforce how lost we all are. Despite the tears we shed and the prayers we offer, we still find ourselves so lulled into complacency by our pleasant, comfortable lives that we hardly ever consider our own sins and their consequences without our Savior. As we celebrate the coming of Jesus, we have a chance to consider how hopeless we would be without God’s gift of his Son to redeem us.
I have been inspired as I have looked again at the events connected with the birth of Jesus.
• Luke gives us the fullest account of the events.
• John’s focus is on the divinity of Jesus. He tells us that “the Word became flesh.”
Angels have a major role in reporting the Messiah’s birth. An angel appears to Zechariah as he is performing his temple duties and tells him that his barren wife Elizabeth will bear a son who will be great in God’s sight. The son is to be named John, and he will bring many back to God as he acts as a forerunner for the Messiah.
Six months after Elizabeth conceives, the angel Gabriel is sent by God to Nazareth to a virgin named Mary. He reports that Mary had found great favor with God. He tells her she will conceive a child and bear a son she will name Jesus. He describes the role this son will have on the throne of David. He will be called Son of the Most High.
When Mary questions how all this is possible, the angel describes the work of the Holy Spirit. Gabriel also told her of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Mary immediately went to Elizabeth. Both are moved by the Holy Spirit to tell of God’s work through the babies they are carrying.
When Jesus is born in Bethlehem, an angel appears to shepherds to announce the birth of the Savior. The angel gives them instructions where to find Jesus, and then a host of angels appear and praise God. Meanwhile, a star appears and encourages wise men to follow in the belief it’s leading to a special person. The star eventually leads them to Jesus.
When Jesus is eight days old, he is taken to the temple to make the offering required for redemption of the firstborn. At the temple, Simeon and Anna acknowledge that the infant Jesus will be the Savior of mankind.
“But I have always felt conflicted about Christmas — with thoughts of Santa Claus bringing presents and the tradition of celebrating Christ’s birth.”
This December, I am going to enjoy the gift-giving and the holiday foods, but I am resolved that this year I am going to contemplate the miracle of God becoming flesh and blood.
I plan to take time for prayer and fasting to reflect on deity becoming human, experiencing temptations and experiencing death — at the hands of those who should have celebrated his life.
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