The occasion of our Lord’s birth was cause for great joy because the Father’s unspeakable gift had come into the world. The passing of many years since the time of his humble entrance into our world has not served to lessen the joy of reflecting upon the first advent of Christ. Each Christmas season serves to remind us the eternal Word participated in our humanity living among us in the person of Jesus the Christ. His birth forever remains good tidings of great joy! We should rejoice he was born for our salvation. Truly his birth is still cause for great joy to all people!
I believe it is appropriate for us to celebrate the birthday of the most important person ever born. Those of you in the Christian community that think it wrong to celebrate his birthday most certainly would not celebrate the birthday of anyone else, right? If we are not allowed to celebrate the birthday of the most important person in history, then it follows that all birthday celebrations must be avoided. Now, we are not commanded in Scripture to celebrate his birthday, but neither are we forbidden to do so. And although we may not know the exact date of his birth, a traditional date like December 25th has served well.
Surely if there was great excitement about his first Advent it only follows that believers continue to rejoice with good tidings of great joy to this very day. However, with that said, we Christians must be careful to avoid the spirit of the world around us. Many people in the world can celebrate Christmas without one thought about Christ. We must guard our own hearts from the influence of a world that still has no room for Christ. With that said, let me offer a few simple suggestions that may help you celebrate Jesus during this Advent season.
Let me begin today by quoting from John chapter one where the scripture says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” (John 1:1, 14) During advent we should reflect upon the awesome reality that God came to earth in the person of Jesus the Christ.
This is a wonder that both thrills the heart and escapes comprehension. We rejoice at Christmas time, not because we know the exact day of Christ’s birth, rather we celebrate because we know God came to us in the person of His Son. You can make this season a time of rejoicing if you meditate on the gift God gave to you when His Son was born that first Christmas morn.
Next, we should worship and exalt the Lord Jesus Christ in our decorations, in our music, and by making His house a priority during the season.
We will see many different decorations throughout our communities during the Christmas season. And in the context of celebrating the joy of the birth of the Savior it can be wonderful. But if His name is not mentioned, or if the manger is nowhere to be seen, then you and I have failed! You and I are a part of the Christian community. It is up to us to provide the lead when it comes to the true meaning of Christmas. Consequently, you and I need to take care that our decorations draw attention to Christ. For example, in the past I have seen an interesting decoration that has Santa Claus kneeling in front of a manger scene. That speaks volumes!
Another important part of our celebration each year is music. Again, there are many Christmas songs, but not all of them honor the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m not saying that a happy Christmas song is wrong, but I am saying you cannot enjoy the presence of the Lord in music that says nothing of Jesus Christ. And I will say this without apology: keep Christ in your music and your heart will thrill again and again at the wonder of the birth of God our Savior!
Also, you and I should exalt Christ by making his house our priority. How can Christians celebrate Christ if they get so busy they have no time for church during the Christmas season? I am looking forward to our worship opportunities during this Christmas season. Shouldn’t our children grow up with the tradition of being in church during the Christmas season? And when Christmas Eve or Christmas day happens to fall on our normal days of worship, shouldn’t we simply teach our children the joy of putting Christ first? After all, it is his birthday! If you ever let yourself drift into a state of mind such that church is in the way of your Christmas celebrations, then you have totally lost the meaning of the season.
Next, we should rehearse the history of Christ’s birth to our children and grandchildren. With all due respect, Christmas is not about Frosty the Snowman, or Rudolph the red nose reindeer, or other mythical cartoon figures. Our children need to understand that Jesus is a real person of history. We need to carefully teach them the details of the life of Christ as contained in the Word of God.
If we are not careful, the history of his birth will become trivial to our children. Because they do not know it well, and because there are so many other distractions at this time of year, the real reason for the season will be lost. Instead of giving our children a Christian heritage, they will come to view the season as just a time for another party. Make your Christmas celebration a time of careful instruction for your children. If you do so, it will bring greater joy to your heart as you see your children grow in their faith.
Next, we should make Scripture reading a part of our family gatherings.
This is a tradition we would be wise to establish. A good idea might be to read the story of the birth of Christ before you open gifts on Christmas day and then offer a prayer of thanksgiving for all of God’s goodness, especially for the unspeakable gift of His Son.
By the way, this should be the reason we exchange gifts. The giving of gifts at Christmas should be a celebration of the fact our heavenly Father gave us the gift of His Son. The giving of gifts can be an expression of joy and a celebration of God’s goodness to us through His Son. (You might like to read Esther 9:20-23 for an example of giving gifts in celebration of God’s mercies) This year if you choose to exchange gifts, why not do so with joy and in celebration of God’s unspeakable gift?
Speaking of gifts, that brings me to the next point in this message: We should worship Christ with our giving during the Christmas season. Another aspect of gift giving at Christmas should be this: All of our gift giving during the Christmas season should be done in the spirit of Christ who said, “it is more blessed to give than it is to receive.” Those who enjoy Christmas the most are those who learn the joy of giving!
Gift giving can certainly serve the purpose of meeting needs in our own families and in the lives of our neighbors. What joy there is in giving to bless others! And the gift could either meet a legitimate need or simply bless the recipient with a good thing. All giving done during the Christmas season can certainly be done in worship of Christ if done with prayer and with an aim to please him.
But there is another important point here. How strange it is that at Christmas time we would fail to give a special offering to Christ himself. I challenge you to worship Christ in your giving by putting him at the top of your “gift list.” I believe, like the wise men who visited the young Christ child, that we should worship him with gifts from our treasures. Don’t forget this important part of your celebration.
Next, we should celebrate Christmas by touching others with the love of Christ.
What an opportunity the Christmas season provides to reach out to others with the love of Christ. There are many needs in our world. Why not make it your business to help meet the needs of others who are facing difficulties. You may know a single mom who is struggling, or a family facing unusual medical expenses, or a family in transition as the husband is temporarily unemployed. My friends, if we are to truly celebrate Christmas, then we are compelled to model the love of the one born on Christmas day.
And finally, we should celebrate Christmas by sharing the hope that Christmas gives. Can I ask you a question: who are you building a relationship with in the interest of winning them to Christ? There are people all around you that desperately need the hope that can only be found in Christ. Let’s celebrate with great joy by sharing the good tidings of a Savior who can bring peace and healing to a broken heart.
Make merry this Christmas season. Merry Christmas!