This week is crazy with travel, last minute shopping, and so much else I will keep this post short. To travel out of China and back to the US has taken us a train, 2 taxis, 2 planes, 1 hotel, and a whole lot of time with no sleep. It has spit me out happy to be back in the US but without much other brain computing power to process the change.
To counteract all the materialism this time of year many talk about ‘the real meaning of Christmas’. I agree I think Christmas is wonderful and it is about Jesus and not about presents. But a lot of it comes out as a religious platitude – what does ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’ really mean and how does it affect the holidays, or life going forward?
How can I live this truth?
So the brain is a bit fuzzy, but I have been thinking about this for the last week and wanted to try and share some of these thoughts with you. The true meaning of Christmas is very practical this time of year and through the whole year with religion, purpose, people, material possessions and so much more.
What Christmas Means to Me:
God Keeps His Promises
Not sure God exists? Not sure He can handle your problem? Not sure He will come and set the world right in the end? Christmas is where we celebrate the fulfillment of the biggest (to date) promise that God ever made to humans. God said all through the Old Testament that He would send the Messiah and Christmas is the time we celebrate when He did.
Not sure God will come through with what He has promised to do? or come through with being who He says He is? Christmas is proof that He does.
- Religious Truth: God keeps His promises
- Practical Application: I can trust He will come through in my life
This idea is worth so much more than a cookie or a candy cane, but celebrating with these just makes everything more fun
True Gifts Come in the Form of People
Tradition holds that we give gifts at Christmas because the wise men gave gifts to Jesus when He was born. … but the wise men were such a small part of the story. In the Bible accounts of the birth of Christ we don’t even know how many wise men there were or when they actually got there. We know there were 3 gifts and that they (probably) showed up sometime before Jesus turned 2 years old (because after they left Herod killed all the baby boys under 2 years old to try and make sure that Jesus was killed). It was a special part of the story, but not the main theme.
The real gift in the Christmas story was Jesus – a person. People make the best gifts. Have you experienced this? The people in my life and the interaction I have with them are what make my life. Sure money and pretty things are a nice bonus but nothing makes me feel as special or as happy as people who give part of themselves, part of their time, encouragement, or laughter to me. We all need each other much more than anything that can be wrapped and set under the tree.
- Religious Truth: God gave us Himself – the most valuable gift ever
- Practical Application: The most valuable thing we can give or get comes in the form of people
Sometimes Sending a Gift, a Note, or a Donation Just Doesn’t Cut It
Gifts of true meaning take effort. Jesus created the world, He gave people the Bible, and He sent a lot of messengers. All this was wonderful, but it didn’t cut it. To really show how much He loved He had to come in person.
This is so true everywhere in life. To really give someone a true ‘gift’ it takes being involved, being present, cutting out other distractions and focusing on the recipient. This is what determines the value of the gift much more than the money spent. Showing someone we care can’t be delegated to money or a pretty bow.
- Religious Truth: God came to earth – a sacrifice we can never really understand
- Practical Application: Really showing others we care takes action and focus. It requires a being present in both location and mind.
God is at Work Around Us
Back when Jesus was born there was a lot going on. The town was packed to the brim with visitors (so much so that Joseph and Mary couldn’t get a room) and that had to be crazy for everyone and every business in town. It wasn’t only the hotels that were busy but every business would have been affected. People were probably busy with their lives and work the week before, but this week brought that to another level. … this sounds a lot like our lives around Christmas time right? Christmas is another pile of things to fit into already busy lives.
But in the middle of all the ‘important’ and necessary things that were making life busy for everyone in the city the son of God was being born. Some people noticed that this was history-shaking and huge, but most people completely missed it because there were to many other things to get done.
Jesus only came as a baby once, but huge ‘history-shaking’ things happen around us all the time. God works around us in the lives of people all the time and most of the time we (meaning I cause I speak from experience) completely miss it because I have too many non-history-relevant things I am focused on.
This is life. Most of these ‘non-history shaking’ things need to get done. But understanding that we need to keep our eyes out for the truly important things in life and make them priority when we find them will keep us from missing things that really matter.
- Religious Truth: God is working around us and it is always much more important than what we are doing
- Practical Application: What we get so busy and distracted doing is important but most of it is really not that important a month or a year from now. Get what you can done, don’t stress about the rest, and keep focused on the most important priorities.
Well… so much for keeping it short… I got carried away Have a wonderful week and a Merry Christmas!
Thanks so much for reading!