During this season, I’d like to encourage each of us to find Christ in Christmas.
In taking an assessment of finding the “perfect” tangible gift, we’ve discovered that it’s not the right ornament for the tree; not another gift card for the family member that has everything; and not even the secret family recipe. It’s the miracle of Christmas that was given to us through the birth of Jesus Christ. In our haste to demonstrate and express love, we fall prey to the customs of the world and adapt to the hurriedness of replacing Christ with the “X” of life. We have to keep before us the miracle, the mindset and His mission, which is to share His “unconditional” love — the best gift we can give during this season.
In reflecting on the meaning of Christmas, I was challenged not to see it through the eyes of materialism. A television interviewer was walking the streets of Tokyo at Christmas time. Much as in America, Christmas shopping is a big commercial success in Japan. The interviewer stopped one young woman on the sidewalk and asked, “What is the meaning of Christmas?”
Laughing, she responded, “I don’t know. Is that the day that Jesus died?”
Well, there was some truth in her answer, that some of us have forsaken Jesus and given birth to materialism. When Pope Julius I authorized Dec. 25 to be celebrated as Jesus’ birthday in A.D. 353, who would have ever thought that it would become what it is today? When Professor Charles Follen lit candles on the first Christmas tree in America in 1832, who would have ever thought that the decorations would become as elaborate as they are today?
It’s been a long time since 1832, longer still from 353, and longer still from that dark night brightened by a special star in which Jesus the king was born. Yet, this time of year gives us yet another opportunity to pause, in the midst of all the excitement and elaborate decorations and expensive commercialization that surround Christmas today, to consider again the event of Christmas and the person whose birth we celebrate.
In this season, let’s be intentional to reflect on wanting to give Jesus, the one who truly is the reason for the season. As we allow His birth, his conception and his prophecy in Isaiah 7:14: “The Lord will give you a sign, Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel (meaning God with us).” In times of gathering, remember He is with us, He wrapped the most important gift to give, He paid for it so we wouldn't have to. It’s the gift that will change a life forever.
This Christmas season will be the best ever because of the new mindset He has given to us. Let the mind of Christ Jesus be in you! Present well His present to you.
Paige is the senior pastor of Immanuel Christian Church and a member of the United Ministerial Alliance.