"Let's go and see ..." Lk 2:15
Like everyone else, and despite all my best intentions, I've become caught up in, even consumed by the preparations for Christmas. Out of my thoughts go the manger, shepherds and wise men. In come Christmas tree, turkey and where to hide the children's presents so they don't find them before Christmas day. Consequently the weekend had passed and I still haven't written PrayerCollege.
Taking Christ Out of Christmas
As Christians we are as prone to get off track at this time of year as everyone else. we are not helped by "Christmas Specials" on TV or the fact that this year's stamps have pantomime characters on them, unless you specifically ask for "religious" stamps. Then the counter clerk will go to the back of the post office and rummage around for the sheet of stamps reserved for those of us who are determined to fight back against the secularisation of Christmas (provided we're not so fraught by all the Christmas stress that we remember to ask). Will the Royal mail be producing Ede or Diwali stamps next year?
Religion in Christmas
There may be little of Christ left in most people's Christmas but there is in fact a lot of religion. There's the religious attitude that says you have to send cards to everyone you work with, to people with whom you've had no contact since the last card. There's the insistence on spending way too much money on more food than any reasonable person could possibly consume over the holiday. There's the installation of massive displays of lights outside people's homes which, with fuel prices as they are, probably require the owner to remortgage their home. The school nativity play must have a donkey, an innkeeper and 3 kings despite the fact that none of these are mentioned in the Bible. There may of course also be Father Christmas, reindeer, snowmen and even penguins in one production I saw a few years ago.
Jesus in Christmas
Christmas is full of religion and tradition but has little to do with what happened in Bethlehem in 6BC. Then the concern of those who believed something had happened which was worth celebrating was to get to see this baby. The Shepherds' response the herald angels was, let's go and SEE. The Magi travelled hundreds of miles because they wanted to SEE. Anna and Simeon in the temple were overjoyed to SEE.
The problem with Christmas is we no longer take the time to gaze in awe and wonder at this astounding miracle which is God coming to us as a baby. I don't know about you, but I can't comprehend that. I believe it by faith and in the church services I attend around Christmas I want the opportunity to be still and to reflect upon this great mystery of history with worship and adoration.
But somehow it all gets lost in mince pies and wrapping paper. The manger has been cluttered up with so much junk that even the devoted find it hard to see Jesus, let alone those who don't know enough to look for Him.
If the world can't see Jesus in Christmas then we must ensure that they can see Him in us. There has to be a bigger difference than just including a nativity scene in our decorations. It is essential that if Jesus is not at the centre of Christmas, He is at least at the centre of our hearts.
Jesus In Christians
How can people see Jesus in Us? This is only possible as we take time personally to gaze upon Him in awe and wonder. Then we will reflect His glory (2 Cor 3:18). Perhaps we might even dare to admit that the secularisation of Christmas is our fault because we have failed to truly see Jesus ourselves and consequently the world has not been able to see Him. He must be born in our hearts before the world can see Him born in Bethlehem.
Prayer College Assignment
Being a Christian is not about what we do or how we celebrate Christmas, but about how much we have seen of Jesus. When we live in intimate fellowship with Him and take time each day simply to gaze on Him, we will make more of an impact on the world than we will with all our self-righteous pronouncements about this season of festivity. Make an extra special effort to take time alone to fix your eyes on Jesus. Make that your gift to Him this Christmas.