Summary: A message focusing upon the simple elements of the age-old Christmas Story and their continuing relevance to every generation.
A SIMPLE SORT OF SCRIPTURAL CHRISTMAS
Luke Chapter Two
"Family and friends from afar gathered at the nobleman’s home for the Christening and the traditional party. After much joy and gladness and a number of drinks and toasts, the time came for the Christening. But no one could locate the baby, the reason for the celebration. The parents and others searched high and low until one guest recalled seeing the infant sleeping upon the bed where arriving guests had deposited their wraps. Rushing frantically to the room, the mother discovered the lifeless form of the child smothered underneath a large pile or heavy coats. How ironic and tragic that the guest of honour should have been so forgotten, neglected and destroyed."
Is this old story true? Perhaps. But in any case the application of the moral to our increasingly secular celebration of Christmas is all too clear. The One who should be the guest of honour at every celebration purporting to commemorate His birthday is more often than not forgotten, neglected, and ignored. His testimony of love, light and righteousness is all too often denied and destroyed by those who gather to purportedly celebrate His birthday. Is it any wonder that the little girl who misunderstood the Lord’s Prayer was heard to pray, "Forgive us our Christmases as we forgive those who Christmas against us...." Or that another child who also misunderstood spoke of, "The only forgotten son.."
Much of our modern celebration revolves around traditions and innovations that have very little if anything to do with the reason for the season. It is sad that for too many, children in particular, a Johnny-come-lately Santa Claus has seeming supplanted our Saviour in familiarity and popularity. This seasonal charlatan is a modern version of a Roman Catholic archbishop of the city of Myra. He later became the so-called patron saint of Russia. A myth developed around his supposed generosity in giving three bags of gold to three maidens without dowries (The question comes to mind, "Just what was a lowly servant of God doing with three bags of gold anyway.) The international symbol of pawnbrokers and moneylenders, three olden bells, is based upon this fanciful myth.
The Christmas tree is also a relatively recent invention. Originating in Germany, it is said that Martin Luther decorated the first one. The English Christmas Pie is also of fairly recent vintage. The early ones would not even be recognized as pies today. A London nobleman ordered one in 1770 with the following ingredients: Two bushels of flour, twenty pounds of butter, forty fowls of all kinds, two beef tongues and two rabbits. It is nine feet across when baked. The first Christmas card of record was mailed in England in 1846.
I addressed this sad situation of symbolism over substance in a short article published in the Gold Coast Bulletin entitled, "The Meaning Of Christmas,"
"What is Christmas? Is it an endless shopping list, a depleted bank account or an overflowing credit card? Is it fir trees, candy canes, holly wreaths, bells tinsel or toys? Is it the piped music played in bustling shopping centres to se the mood for a certain seasonal commercial success? Is it Santa photos, office parties or holiday breaks? Is Christmas a family gathering around a Christmas feast? Is it a Christmas concert, carol sing or a traditional Christmas movie?
A Biblical and Christ-centred Christmas is about perishing men needing to be rescued and lost men needing to be saved. Christmas is God giving His Son to the world and His Son giving Himself for our sins, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Christmas is Christ the Son of God becoming the Son of Man that sons of men might become sons of God. Christmas is much more than tinsel, ribbons, presents, parties or the giving and getting of temporal gifts that will have no value in eternity. It is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ Who came to give us the greatest of all gifts, eternal life and a home in heaven with Him.
For those seeking to know the true meaning of Christmas, the Christ of Christmas stands ready to share the true meaning of His birth, life, death and resurrection. Have you really considered the reason for the season? Is there room in your Christmas for the real Gift of Christmas? Why not open your heart to Him in real faith and He will come into your heart and life? Then you can truly say with Paul and those of us who have received Him, ’Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.’"
I prefer a simple sort of scriptural Christmas. One that focuses upon the simple scriptural record of the birth of Christ and exalts Him and Him alone. To celebrate such a Christmas, we need to discover and focus upon the elements and activities that marked that first Christmas Day some two thousand years ago in that little town of Bethlehem of Judea.