Thursday, December 06, 2012
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).
Scripture Reading: Luke 2:8-12
If we were to place a citizen of a third world country in one of our busy shopping malls during the Christmas season and he were to see the hustle and bustle of the crowds, what would be his impression of the meaning of the Christmas festivities? By the sight and sound of our Christmas preparations, would he be able to discern the true meaning of Christmas? Could we explain to him the real meaning? Would he believe us? The glitter, tinsel, buying and selling, drunken parties, and so on-do these speak more loudly to such people than do the testimonies of our churches and of our individual Christian lives?
Our own children are rapidly losing sight of the true meaning of Christmas, for Christ has been taken out of Christmas, his place having been usurped by our own selfish pleasure in its outward celebration. At this beginning of the Christmas season, let us gather our families together and remind them through the reading of the Christmas story of the real meaning of this great Christian celebration. Let us attempt to cause them to see for themselves that there is a great depth to the richness of the glorious message of Christmas. Let us teach them that the Christmas season is a time:
1) For adoration and praise of our Lord.
This is a truism that is so obvious that it has been overlooked by many in our generation. At this season of the year, we ought to give full expression to our great love for the Lord through unashamed praise.
A baby has been born to bless the world in a unique way.
When any baby is born into a home, we rejoice over such a blessed addition to the family. The birth of the Christ child, when viewed from the full scope of the centuries, should cause such rejoicing as our hearts cannot contain. As the wise men of the East came to give adoration to him, so ought we to give adoration to him. They only knew by partial revelation that he was to grow up to be a very special person. We know by the testimony of the centuries what a special person was born in Bethlehem’s stable. We know through his life, teachings, miracles, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection from the dead that he truly is the Son of the living God, that God came down to earth that night so long ago in Bethlehem’s stable.
This babe came as a fulfillment of the promise that the one called “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6 NIV) would be born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14).
Hundreds of years prior to this great event in Bethlehem’s stable a prophecy in rather minute detail was given concerning the circumstances of his birth and of his character and ministry. For such a glorious promise to find such complete fulfillment for human good is indeed cause for our adoration and praise. The Son of God stepped into the pages of history as complete fulfillment of God’s promises to humankind and for the purpose of reconciling people with God. At this season of the year, this great truth ought to cause us to sing our great Redeemer’s praise!
The shepherds watching their sheep in the valley below the mountain of Bethlehem were startled out of their drowsiness on that night by the most beautiful music they had ever heard, the carol being sung to them by a heavenly choir.
That music lingered in their hearts and minds throughout their days, causing them to set in motion songs of praise to the Christ child. Let there be depth of meaning to the words we sing; let these carols be expressive of our real feeling toward the Christ of Christmas.
2) Of realization of the meaning of his coming.
What does the coming of Christ into the world really mean to our hearts today? What was his purpose in coming into the midst of humankind?
He came to bring peace among people of goodwill by giving them the gift of peace in their hearts through the redemption of their souls.
This world today, even as in every preceding age, is crying out for peace. Nation is set against nation, race against race, philosophy against philosophy. We claim we want peace, but until we are willing to have peace on God’s terms, we can never find it. We have the promise of Micah the prophet, “And he will be their peace” (Mic. 5:5 NIV). Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
He came to bring hope-hope for this present life and hope for eternity.
Isaiah the prophet had predicted centuries earlier, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined” (Isa. 9:2). God’s people at the time of Christ’s birth were in a hopeless situation. They were a people dominated by a foreign empire, Rome. They saw no prospect of a happy future, actually no prospect of a future of any sort. They knew little of life beyond the grave. Humankind in that day viewed life beyond the grave much as modern-day atheists view it-eternity without hope.
He came to teach people how to love the Lord their God with all their hearts and to give expression to that love by loving their neighbors as themselves. How beautifully Jesus told the story of a Samaritan who kindly treated a Jewish man who had fallen among thieves on the winding road through the hot desert area between Jerusalem and Jericho. He told this so realistically that it causes one to wonder if by chance he was the person to whom it had happened. This was a new concept to those living under the law, for they had a philosophy of “live and let live,” not of “live and help to live.” And Jesus said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 22:39). The babe of Bethlehem’s stable was born as a result of God’s great love for lost and bewildered humanity; this babe so loved lost humanity that he later laid down his life that we might have eternal life. Such an example of love ought to inspire us to have true love for God and for our fellow humans.
3) For giving to others with no hope of receiving.
The commercialization of Christmas is something that true Christians deplore. The idea of giving ought to be based on love, of giving to others in the spirit of Christ.
Let us give to those in need instead of simply “exchanging” gifts.
Look about you this year and find some child who may not have any Christmas gifts because his parents have hit hard times. Assist those parents on behalf of the child’s Christmas toys. Help an older couple living on limited means. Help the down and out person. Give to those from whom you could not possibly expect a gift in return. The wise men came bearing rich gifts for a baby born of poor parents. They gave with no expectation of a gift in return. Let us give to others in the name of Christ and surprise ourselves with the greatest return gift of all-that nice, warm feeling of joy in our hearts!
Let us give the greatest of all gifts at this season of the year, the gift of the Christ child himself to someone who does not know Christ personally.
Take the message of Christ to a person who is not a Christ follower. Introduce that person to Christ. Endeavor to lead that person to a saving knowledge of Christ. Give Christ at Christmas.
Now in Conclusion
This year let us really put Christ into Christmas by making him the focal point around which all of our celebration takes place. Let us give him our praise and adoration. Let us remember why Christ emptied himself of heaven’s glory in order to come down among sinful people and later die for them. Let us return to the joy of real gift giving at Christmas, giving the greatest of all gifts, Christ Jesus himself!
Merry Christmas to you all,