Everything is set, the kids are in bed. Devin is still up (12: 30 am) but I hope he will soon fall asleep. He turns into a pumpkin if he doesn’t get a full night’s rest. Before I toddle off for a ‘long winter’s nap’, some words about Christmas.
Michael Horton, professor of theology at Westminster Seminary in California, suggests that “Christmas without the specter of the cross, without awareness that this is a baby born to die for mankind’s sins, is a fancied up fraud.” Professor Horton warns that “Santa becomes a substitute for Christ. (See yesterday’s picture) He’ll give you presents whether you were good or bad. It’s hard to imagine Santa returning to judge the human race and consign anyone to hell. But that is what Jesus came to save us from.”
Some Secularists in the media dislike the holiday because its religious trappings are still inescapable. On the flip side some faith-based enthusiasts may simultaneously resent the ecumenical, commercialized, gauzy, feel-good atmosphere associated with the festival in its North American incarnation, but most people continue to value the properly revered “Christmas spirit” with its emphasis on eternal virtues like kindness, community, and charity.
The challenge is this: all the tinsel-trimmed traditions can obscure the true meaning of the holiday. “The focus on peace and giving gifts allows you to safely focus on nice things instead of the idea that God sent his son Jesus to be Christ, who dies on a cross,” says Ed Stetzer. “It’s human nature to want to take the ‘nice’ without the ‘truth.'”
The challenge is seeing the truth in the midst of all the other things. Seeing that Christ set you free to enjoy a day like this. Seeing Christ at the table tomorrow when I bear with family (and them with me). When my kids open their gifts tomorrow, remembering Jesus’ words that, “If you think you know how to give good gifts, how much more does your Father in Heaven long to give good gifts to you”
The problem with Christmas is not diet, or consumerism, or morality, it is that we are spiritual beings that crave depth and meaning and yet we breath superficial air. We live in a fallen world but Romans 8 says we have a soul that remembers what it used to be like and it groans to be put right.
Can you receive Christ today, or any other day. Can you find him in the margins, and in the small details. Of all days of the year if you cannot get Christ but instead get a sweater, then the day loses it’s depth, it’s weight, and it’s meaning.
Grace and Peace to all of you. May the Lord Jesus Christ live richly in your home during the next few days and in the year to come.