“Fear not, I bring you tidings of great joy…For unto you is born this day…a Savior…” -Linus quoting Luke 2 in “A Charlie Brown Christmas”
I love Christmas. I love it all (in spite of many years of retail management). I love the sights, the sounds, the symbols, the traditions, the aromas, the corny movies, the giving, and yes, even the receiving of gifts. Yet, yearly, I find myself having to defend my love of all things Christmas with, especially, Christians, my family-in-the-faith, who are worried that it is “too commercial,” or “isn’t really when Jesus was born anyway,” or the real biggie: “it is a time of pagan worship.”
Bah-humbug, people! Get on board the joy-train. Even in the Old Testament (see Nehemiah 8.9-12) God’s people were instructed, actually encouraged, to remember God in celebration – to eat and drink and rejoice, and not to grieve, for
“the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Then, 2000 years ago, the angels, with the actual glory of the Lord shining around them, declared the GOOD NEWS, the MESSAGE everyone had been waiting for, the EVENT for which they had been longing and prophesying from way back, “good tidings of great joy…to all people…for…born this day…a Savior!”
Yaaaay – it happened! He came. And the angelic response to this in the heavenlies that night was worship to God (“Glory to God in the highest”) and declaration of blessings to mankind, who now had a Savior (“peace, goodwill toward men!“).
Why celebrate? Would offend God if we just got happy and decorated our houses because Jesus, God’s Son came?
In the book of Ezra, there was a celebration so raucous when the foundation of the temple was finished – the rejoicing was so loud the noise was heard far away. The Bible is full of dramatic worship and celebrating. But the things we do when we celebrate and decorate have much symbolic meaning at their very root. We can imprint our children and grandchildren and impact others with the truth in our celebrating. I welcome the symbols for the freedom they give me to declare Christ at this time of year more than at any other.
Christmas literally means: Christ Mass. Mass is: our worship/prayers, and ceremonies commemorating the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Everytime we say “Merry Christmas,” we are declaring Christ!
He is everywhere – in all the symbols:
- Every twinkling light, every candle lit that pierces the darkness that would otherwise be there is representing “Jesus, the Light of the world.”
- In the colors – the gold is like the gold the Wise Men brought as worship; green represents everlasting, abundant life; “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow,” the white snow covering the ground reminds me of the grace of God covering my sin and imperfection; the red reminds me of the blood that baby Messiah, once grown, spilled in a gruesome sacrifice for my sin – and because of all the forgiveness I have needed, red will forever and always be part of my personal celebration decoration, regardless of what fashions prevail.
- If you had to choose between “getting” or “giving” this Christmas, what would you choose? Most of us have discovered the joy of giving because we remember God’s great gift to us (John 3.16). Because He gave to me, my heart overflows and I want to give…and give…and give! I just WANT to. I am no pagan! :)
Do you believe I could go on? I could because I have chosen to “joy” in Christmas and celebrate extravagantly.
I recently read the Book of Habakkuk, which one scholar describes as being “one man’s pilgrimage from doubt to worship.” The book ends with an incredible song of faith and worship in which Habakkuk makes this decision in spite of the devastating circumstances in which he finds himself:
“Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”
The study notes say this Hebrew word for joy speaks of “dancing or leaping for joy,” that it indicates “spinning around with intense motion.” And note, please – it is a verb.
Yes, it would seem the world becomes increasingly Godless. No, most people have no idea what Christmas is suppose to be or the total truth of what they are celebrating, but I do know. And I will joy because He’s here! He came! I have a Savior!
Blessings & goodwill to you and yours. Great news: your Savior came! May you have the most joyous, peaceful, life-giving, merriest Christmas ever. JOY to the world! Jeanie
NOTE TO SELF: be glad, rejoice, celebrate, spin around and dance, be exceedingly glad and pass on the good news that a Savior came – for all people!