The holidays always resurrect memories of yesteryear. The brightly lit trees. The Christmas carols. The Salvation Army volunteers standing next to a black kettle, ringing their bells, asking for donations. The Santa Claus at the mall with all of the little ones being forced to sit on his knee. Flashbulbs flash, and the picture invariably turns out to be that of a child’s distorted look of horror. Hints galore have been coming to Dad in heightened frequency. The kids are behaving themselves lately. The wife seems a little more attentive. The truth is, they are fattening Dad up for the financial kill. This is Christmas time.
Christmas is many different things to many different people. To some, it may be a Christmas tree with bright, shining lights and multi-colored rope draped over its branches. To others, it may be an angel placed at the top of the Christmas tree or a medley of songs such as Silent Night heard echoing through the halls of a shopping mall. It may be a group of ear-muffed youth standing in front of a nursing home singing “Joy to the World,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Away in a Manger,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” or “The First Noel.”
Christmas may be a Santa Claus sitting in a shopping center flanked by a line of kids and their parents, blinded by the flash of the camera. To some it will be parents waiting in an airport for sons and daughters or an expensive phone call from a homesick college student away from home for the first time. Christmas may find some of our boys walking guard on foreign soil, dreaming of being home. To some soldier it will be his last Christmas on earth. Literally hundreds and hundreds of people will crowd the airports, bus depots, and train stations, anxiously awaiting a glimpse of a loved one.
Christmas to some is brownies, banana puddin’, pecan pies, banana puddin’, fruitcake, banana puddin’, coconut cake, banana puddin’, pumpkin pie, banana puddin’, nuts, banana puddin’, turkey and dressing, and banana puddin’! Calories, calories, calories, calories, calories!
Christmas to some is a tour of lights in Marshall, Texas. Christmas to some is a tour around the neighborhood, gazing at all of the decorated homes. Christmas to some is hanging stockings on a fireplace, waiting for some mysterious stranger to fill them that night. It is midnight before the big day. Mom and Dad nervously try to find where slot A is so tab B can be connected. Christmas is trying to remember if Uncle George is 38” around the waist, or is it the neck? Christmas is trying to remember a 17” shirt size, or was that a shoe size? Christmas is a school play where a group of little devils plays little angels for one night. Christmas is Uncle Joe giving you a tie you gave him last year.
Christmas to some is a reindeer, a sleigh, an earmuff, or a runny nose. Christmas to some is not getting your mother-in-law what you would like to get her because it is against the law. Christmas to some is tiptoeing to hide the presents while the kids peek around the corner and whisper, “Boy, ain’t Dad dumb!” Christmas to some is a fireman remaking old toys to look like new ones. Christmas is a flat-busted dad pondering his plight to the poorhouse. Christmas is tearful loved ones waving good-bye. Christmas to others is a tearful telephone call that will last long enough to pay for Ma Bell’s new Cadillac. Christmas is a church delivering Christmas baskets to the poor.
Christmas is a lonely Christmas tree ignored after the big day is over, born in gaiety and soon very alone in the backyard. Christmas to others is a child throwing the gift aside to play with the box. Christmas is a dad who plays with the electric train he so unselfishly bought for his son to be born in three months. Christmas is a husband admiring the tool set he bought for his wife or trying out that new 30-30 for his wife to take deer hunting. Christmas to some will be a cantata, a play, or a wonderfully stuffed and baked turkey, set on a table fit for a king. Christmas to some will mean caroling, a tree, gifts, a smile, a tear, and sacrifices. To some it will mean a lonely heart, while to others it will mean happy souls.
As you can see, Christmas is many different things to many different people. However, I think we have missed the whole idea. Somehow, I think we have missed what God had in mind for Christmas. Please don’t misunderstand me. There is nothing wrong with exchanging gifts. There is nothing wrong with a Christmas tree. Some say if you have a tree you are worshipping that tree…not me, fella - if anything, it will be the things under the tree that I’m worshipping! There is nothing wrong with shopping to buy a dress for your wife for the first time this year. There is nothing wrong with exchanging presents at the office. There is nothing wrong with having a get-together at your house. I know what you are thinking, and you are absolutely right. Jesus’ coming to earth in a virgin birth was not in December. It was probably more like April, but it is still not bad to have a day to remember Christ’s birth.
Christmas is not a holy day. According to Colossians chapter two, those days were nailed to the cross. According to Galatians chapter four, there are no more holy days. I like what Dr. Bob Jones Sr. said, “Every day is a holy day. Every place is a holy place. The kitchen sink is holy. The work bench is holy.” Lenten season was nailed to the cross. Good Friday was nailed to the cross. Easter Sunday was nailed to the cross. Ash Wednesday was nailed to the cross. Fat Friday was nailed to the cross. The Sabbath was nailed to the cross.
What is Christmas anyway? It is Christmas trees, but it is a lot more than that. It is family reunions, but it is a lot more than that. It is shopping and giving, but it is a lot more than that. It is mistletoe and holly, but it is a lot more than that.
Maybe it is a specimen day to show how every day of the year ought to be. Maybe we should feed the poor every week of the year instead of just one week of the year. Maybe we should clothe the naked every week of the year. Maybe we should help put a roof over a family every week of the year. Maybe we are to live, give, share, and love every day instead of just one day.
Maybe we should reach the poor in July as well as December. Maybe we should feed the hungry in August as well as December. Maybe we should visit the elderly in September as well as December. The truth is, that poor family will still be poor after Christmas is over. The hungry children will still be hungry after Christmas is over. The elderly person in the nursing home will still be lonely after Christmas is over. Once Christmas is past, the little boys and girls will still need shoes. Once Christmas is past, the lonely will still be lonely. The truth is, we ought to have Christmas 365 days a year.
Yes, it is holly. Yes, it is mistletoe. Yes, it is brightly lit trees. Yes, it is sharing. Yes, it is loving. Yes, it is shopping. Yes, it is Silent Night and Joy to the World being sung in the mall. Yet somehow, every year Christians seem to miss the mark as to what Christmas is really all about.
Christmas is about Jesus! May I make some suggestions for the holidays in order that the real purpose of Christmas might be fulfilled? After all, it is Jesus’ birthday we are celebrating. Why does everyone else get the attention instead of the One Whose birthday we are celebrating? If that were to happen to your child on his birthday, you mothers would throw a fit. It makes sense to me that we ought to be honoring Jesus and His espoused bride, the local New Testament Church.
It is odd that with so many of God’s people going away for the holidays, church attendance figures are down instead of up at Christmas. Where do you go to church when you are away from your home church? It is also puzzling to me how many Pastors shut down services for the holidays. The Super Bowl seems to be more important than preaching. It is amazing how little we think of Christ and His espoused bride when a holiday rolls around.
Bus routes go unvisited. Bus drivers are absent. Sunday school classes go untaught. Ushers are not in their places. Pastors are out of town. Staff men cannot be found. Soul winning is shut down. Choir chairs are empty. Organists and pianists are gone with no one to fill their spot. No wonder God is slow in answering our prayers when we treat His Son in such a bad manner.
If this is the time we observe the Lord’s birth, then we ought to make sure our time and our treasure reflect that birth. You can have a wonderful and joyful holiday without letting the festivities hurt the Lord or His espoused bride.