Thursday, December 12, 2013

I Love Christmas, but...

I love Christmas.  I love everything about it.  I remember going to downtown Meridian, Mississippi as a child through the brightly lit streets from the Kress store, to Woolworth's, and on.  Each store was decorated and Christmas music wafted on the night air.  My Dad held my hand tightly, and my Mom had my two sisters, as we enjoyed the fairy tale like atmosphere.  I shall never forget the sweet smell of cashews roasting at that delightful candy counter in Woolworth's.    I fear the magic of those sights, sounds, and smells are gone forever, and I believe we are the worse for it.  But I still love Christmas.  I enjoy listening to carols and the songs of my childhood during this bit of nostalgic remembrance.

Yes, I love Christmas, but few people get the joy today from Christmas that my wife, Diane, does.  Few people invest as much of themselves in others as she does in her Grandchildren, our Mothers, and in me.  She spends hours preparing gifts, not expensive, but gifts over which she agonizes while trying to find just the right thing for each one.  She individually wraps about 170, or so, gifts and dates them to be opened on the twelve days of Christmas.  Then, to know that each has received some semblance of joy from the gift lifts her spirit immensely.

Yes, I love Christmas, and Christmas rightly has a place of prominence in Christ's Church, however, it is important to remember that Christmas for the Genuine Believer is the celebration of a birthday.  I'm afraid that even Christ's Church sometimes places far more emphasis upon His birth than we ought.  Let me share with you some facts I've received which might just shock you.

The birthday of the Christ is emphasized more in the Old Testament than in the New Testament, and even those are often shrouded in highly symbolic language.  While two of the four gospels do not even record the events of His birth, The Book of Acts does not refer to it at all.  When Paul summarizes the gospel in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, he doesn't refer to the birth event there either.

I've learned that of the 89 chapters in the four Gospels, only 4 1/2 chapters deal with the first thirty years of Christ's life, while 30 cover what has come to be know as Passion Week and the time following the resurrection to His ascension.  That leaves 54 1/2 chapters of the Gospels which cover His earthly ministry before Passion Week.  

Certainly the birth of Christ is important.  However, we do need to keep it in perspective with the rest of Scripture.  It is common in contemporary churches for a full month to be devoted to the celebration of the Christmas event, and while I'm not saying that is bad, I wonder if the cultural celebration of Christmas has not impacted Christ's Church to the extent that other Biblical truths receive less emphasis.   

Christ's Church should celebrate Christmas, but remember the New Testament emphasis is upon the Lamb who is worthy to be slain for the atonement of man's sin.  He is the Sacrifice sufficient to satisfy the demands of Holy God, and thereby become the propitiation for our sin.

No comments: