8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
Luke 2: 8-14 NASB
Christmas Under Attack
The dominant culture within our society continues to become more and more repulsed by anything pertaining to Christianity. Not only is this disgust aimed at moral convictions across an entire spectrum of issues, but it has also broadened to include those things in which even unbelievers can find value. Namely, that of Christmas and its associated activities. On a regular basis, we continue to be inundated with every possible reason to forget about "the most wonderful time of the year" and all of the joyful activities which we have traditionally engaged in to celebrate this event.
For this blog post, I don't intend to focus on the continuing moral decay of our culture or of the growing persecution of the Christian faith, although all of these things are indeed becoming increasingly prevalent in our society (Matthew 10:16-23). Instead, I would like to call attention to that season of giving which culminates every year on December 25th, Christmas Day.
Everyone is different; not every Christian family celebrates Christmas in the exact same ways. In fact, I'm certain there are Christian families somewhere out there who choose not to engage at all in most Christmas activities. To each his own, and although the acknowledgment of the birth of Christ does not require us to participate in any Christmas tradition(s), doing so sure does seem fitting when you consider the event.
Our family has a number of different traditions that we enjoy doing every year to celebrate Christmas. For instance, every year since 2008, our family goes to the same Christmas tree farm and cuts down a tree to bring home and display. Typically, we then bake Christmas cookies, turn on some Christmas music, and all pitch in to decorate the tree. We also love giving gifts to one another and even during those leaner financial years, we still look for ways to give gifts simply because of the joy that it brings to give. We also try to make the effort to spend the holiday with the people who are closest to us, finding great joy in being able to see each other and watch one another open the gifts that have been lovingly put together for them. For those friends and family, we may have lost in this life, as we gather we remember them too and we have hope, because of Christ, of seeing them again soon. Christmas is also a great time to gather with those who may not have any family and a perfect time to be a family to those who are alone. I even know families, who are not born-again believers, who make an effort every year to reach out to someone in need during Christmas. It's amazing how the birth of Christ even moves lost people to charity...
We also love to decorate, and some years we seem to be able to decorate more than others just because of the busyness of life, but we always manage to pull something out of the basement to remind us of the coming Christmas day. Outdoor lights on the house, multiple Christmas trees throughout the inside of our home, numerous pictures of Christmases gone by, Christmas cards received from close friends and family...all brought out to display the joy of the season.
Since our move to Kentucky, we have also tried to manage a trip to either the Creation Museum or the Ark Encounter to go through their Christmas displays and live nativity. Wow, and how it has grown through the years! Sometimes we go with friends or extended family and sometimes we go by ourselves, it just depends on the year. There is nothing better than walking through all the Christmas lights at the Creation Museum with a warm cup of hot chocolate on a cold Kentucky night!
Starting around Thanksgiving and extending through Christmas there is indeed an "atmosphere" that cannot be denied. Even non-believers who have no understanding of Christ as Savior have found joy in this "most wonderful time of the year". And why is that? What makes this Christmas time such a joyous, remarkable, and magical season that is so different than any other part of the calendar year? Is it the decorations? The family traditions? The gifts or food? Is it the vacation time away from work or the presence of a jolly old St. Nick (yes, even Santa Clause has a Christian origin)?
I believe that whether we acknowledge it or not, the entirety of Christmas and every joyful sentiment surrounding it are because of the birth of the Savior of the world. For centuries, mankind was in darkness, separated from his Creator. He had no hope, no future, and the law only pointed out how incapable he was of ever reconciling himself to God. But Christ changed everything! And His birth was such an incredible event, that God orchestrated many miraculous things to celebrate His birth and herald His coming. This was no ordinary birth! This was no ordinary child!
Cause to Celebrate
It is easy to look around at all the goings-on that surrounds Christmas and wonder why? Why take the time to decorate, and cut down a tree, and wrap gifts that will just be torn open? Why go to all the trouble to make your traditional family Christmas meal and perhaps travel long distances just to gather together for one day? Why go through the expense and the labor to pull everyone together to celebrate the birth of one baby boy that happened so long ago, so far away?
It is because, without Christmas, there's no Easter, and this is why we celebrate His birth.
Do you see? Had Christ not been born as one of us, fully taking on the flesh of man, He could not have also died in our place, taking the punishment of sin, so that we would not (2 Corinthians 8:9). His birth marked the dawn of true life for mankind. It is at Christmas that we celebrate the event that paved the way for Christ to die, to suffer for our sake. This event marked the origin of true joy, real hope, and lasting peace on earth within the hearts of those who would choose to follow Him.
This is why I celebrate Christmas; this is why we go through all the trouble that we do. We cannot help but celebrate the miraculous birth of our Savior. We cannot be stopped regardless of what the world says or does. We know true joy and real peace and we cannot stop from proclaiming Noel! Peace on earth, goodwill to all men!
The last couple of years have been increasingly difficult for everyone, and I know the enemy would love nothing more than to extinguish the joy that we all find in celebrating the birth of THE Savior. But I want to encourage you to make the effort to do those things which you and your family have traditionally gathered to do in celebration of Christmas. Do not allow the depravity of the world to destroy the hope and joy that we have found in Him.
From His birth, He conquered death, and now I have life!