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?
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.