“Hard to See Through the Wrapping Paper”
Christmas images are quite vivid in most people’s minds. You have probably heard about the boy who, when asked about the Christmas story, could only remember the three maggots who brought gold, frankincense and smurfs to baby Jesus.
In addition to this distorted image of Christmas there are many other ways people view this holiday. Some see it as a time of giving and thus, shopping. Some think of family. Others think of Christmas plays, candy and presents. It is, as one writer has said, “….harder and harder to see Christmas through the wrapping paper of our culture.”
In 1989 actor Charles Durning made a film titled “It Nearly Wasn’t Christmas.” The film portrays Santa as very unhappy. He is so bothered by the greed and selfishness of the world that he has threatened to cancel the holiday, thus causing everyone to miss Christmas. Sadly, each year many of us miss Christmas. Covid19 and the pandemic probably make it more rather than less likely that many will miss Christmas this year.
How is it that we miss Christmas? We miss Christmas when we don’t personally receive the gifts that the Lord Jesus Christ came to give us. Jesus came as a Savior to save us from our sins and to give us a new life, as well as eternal life. We miss Christmas when we either don’t receive His free gift of salvation or when we don’t live out the new life He has given to us.
We also miss Christmas when we fail to give personally the gift of ourselves to Jesus Christ in worship and thanksgiving. We almost always give gifts to those whom we love this time of year. Why do we forget our Lord during the season we celebrate His birth?
The “how” of missing Christmas is simple but the “why” of missing Christmas is somewhat more complex. Let me suggest some reasons why it is that we miss Christmas. These reasons are taken right from the Biblical account of the very first Christmas.
First of all, it is very possible to miss Christmas because we are preoccupied. Like the innkeeper who had no room in his inn (Luke 2:7) for Joseph and the very pregnant Mary, we are not hostile or unsympathetic. We are just very very busy and unfocoused. The shopping, the wrapping of gifts, the living of life etc., make it so very easy for us to miss Christmas. It takes a real effort to focus on the important, real reason for the season.
Secondly, we can miss Christmas if we are perplexed about the Christ child. This was the case with those who heard the shepherds’ first announcement of the Savior’s birth (Luke 2:18). They marveled at the good news but did not personally go to check things out for themselves. They missed Christmas. If Jesus is a mystery to you how can you help but miss Christmas.
Sadly, who Jesus really is and what He came to do is somewhat of a blur to most people. Growing up in church I had a vague idea about the identity of the baby Jesus, but I understood very little of the implications of His coming to earth. I made very little effort to check out his claims. Frankly, I was comfortable in my ignorance. The result was that for many years I missed Christmas.
Thirdly, we can miss Christmas because of our own fears regarding Jesus Christ. I’ll call it paranoia. When Herod and the Jewish leaders were approached by the Magi from the East they were troubled (Matt. 2:1-3). The Magi sought a newborn king. King Herod feared that the new king might take away his throne. He fancied himself king of the Jews. Jesus comes not only to us as a Savior, but also as King. We miss Christmas when we are afraid of His rule in our lives and of the changes He most certainly will bring. Thus, because of our fear we miss Christmas.
We can also miss Christmas because of our pride. The chief priest and scribes were experts in the law. They even quoted Micah 5:2 to Herod about the whereabouts of Christ’s birth (Matt. 2:4-6). Yet, they failed to seek out the Christ child. They were content in their religious traditions. They had a concept of a Messiah that they were comfortable with. Evidently, the Jesus that the Magi sought was not what they were looking for. We must never forget that it is not the religious traditions that make Christmas. It is Jesus. Let’s be sure not to replace him with a celebration of His birth.
In a few short days, Christmas will have come and gone. Don’t miss it this year. Put aside your preoccupation with the presents and the pandemic and focus on the person of Christ. Deal sincerely with the questions you have about Jesus. Search the Scriptures to find the answers. Bow down before him as King. Humble yourself in His presence and worship Him. It is then that you will experience Christmas as it is meant to be experienced.
Regretfully, this year many will once again miss Christmas. Please don’t be in that number. Jesus Christ extends an invitation for us to experience Him and His salvation all year round. Receive His free gift of eternal life today and experience new life everyday. Give to Him this holiday season the gift of your heart.
Blessings and Merry Christmas
Pastor Dave Watson