My Advice to You This Christmas

Allow the things familiar to point you to things essential.

If I may borrow from Charles Dickens’s famous opening line, Christmas can be “the best of times, and the worst of times.” As pastors, we have them both, don’t we?

Christmas

Who hasn’t cringed in September as stores drag out and display the artificial Christmas trees? Who hasn’t felt uneasy about the obligatory exchange of gifts with individuals you hardly know?

Something about those annual experiences can make them seem like “the worst of times.”

But they don’t need to be.

The Best of Times

I prefer to view Christmas as “the best of times.” This is God’s annual reminder to us, in effect:

Feel the warmth in all the lights?

Smell that tree?

See those gifts?

Hear those songs?

My Son came and died for you.

The things familiar are reminders of things essential. “I will always be ready to remind you of these things,” the apostle Peter wrote, “even though you already know them” (2 Peter 1:12).

Isn’t that great? We need regular reminders of essential truths.

The Meaning Behind The Memories

In the Old Testament, the Lord used tangible objects and actions as memory-triggers . . .

  • Phylacteries on the forehead
  • Special food at Passover
  • Stones beside rivers
  • Trumpets for the New Year

The sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes. These seasonal traditions—reignited the passions of God’s people and reminded them of His love and His commands.

Christmas can do the same for us.

What Christmas Means to Me

You string up the lights. You trim the tree. You wrap the presents. You preach a Christmas Eve service. It’s all familiar.

  • It’s just words
  • Just lights
  • Just a tree
  • Just gifts
  • Just songs

Wait a minute!

Remember that Jesus was born of a virgin. Don’t forget how the angels lit the shepherds’ field with God’s glory, announcing the birth of a Savior. Remember, it’s not just our Christmas sermon. You and I needed a Savior—One who would and could die for our sins.

My advice this Christmas? Allow the traditions of the season to stir you up by way of reminder. Allow the things familiar to point you to things essential.

Don’t miss them.

What do you think? What keeps the essentials in Christmas for you? You can tell me by clicking here.

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Pastor Donny Barber

    Chuck,
    You are so right my dear brother. The traditions can be so traditional that they lose their meaning as to why they ever became traditions. In our fallen condition, repitition tends to dull our senses and our understanding of the truth. We need to remind our congregations often, especially at Christmas, observe your traditions again this year “for the first time!” Christmas blessings dear friend!
    Pastor Donny Barber
    Titus, Alabama

  • J Allen

    Just wanted to share a moment in the traditions that can become so mundane with all we have to do in preparing. As we were singing Emanuel God with us my mind began to sing Amazing Grace. A new song for Christmas for us. But so fresh the message of His Grace comming to us!
    Thank you for reminding us to look beyond the mundane and ask for a fresh look at Bethlehem.

  • Totally agreed with you that allow the traditions of the season to stir you up by way of reminder. Allow the things familiar to point you to things essential.Traditions are now loosing their real meanings.

  • Thank you, Chuck! Your article is amazing and I am completely agreed with your position. My father had written two dissertations about traditions and the way they integrate in our lives and then disappear. I will show him your article. Shure he will love it.