If you will indulge me, I would like to try a thought experiment. Will you help? (Pause briefly for nods of agreement.)
Then I invite you to close your eyes and think for a few moments about Christmas. (Pause.)
Now, strip away the shopping, the online websites, the Black Friday crowds, the traffic, and all the lines at all those cash registers. (Pause.)
Now take away all the parties, especially the ones you would rather not attend. (Pause.)
Now remove the credit card bills that will land in your mailbox in January. (Pause.) And your bamboozlement over what to buy for Aunt Esmeralda this year. (Pause.)
Now remove everything else that, for you personally, adds to the frenetic pace, the worry, the sense of obligation. (Pause.)
Got it? Can you picture it? Does that version of Christmas bring a sigh of relief?
Now here’s my next question: Without all those trappings, would we still have Christmas?
Under those conditions, many in our community, many in our world might not be able to celebrate Christmas at all. Christmas might fall right off their calendars. It might make as little difference in their lives as World Coconut Day (September 2) or National Poetry Day (October 3).
Would Christmas still be Christmas without all the traditional trappings? For many, no. But for us as God’s people, the answer is a resounding YES! The outward festivities can be fun, but one amazing, astounding, unforgettable, spectacular event lies at the core, at the heart of Christmas. (Read Luke 2:7.)
Imagine that scene. It was dark outside the stable. It was night. In the stillness, Mary gave birth, and as she did, her Baby’s cry pierced through the darkness. That cry was a cry of hope, for that Baby—our Lord Jesus—brought limitless hope into our warring, frivolous, broken, dying world.
The Savior came! He came into the world that God so loved—a world obsessed with trinkets and toys, a world ravaged by hatred and greed. Jesus came into our mess to share our pain, to heal our hatreds, to free our souls for meaning and purpose, to make it possible for you—yes, you!—to live forever as a friend of God, an heir of heaven!
Baby Jesus was born on that first Christmas night centuries ago. He was born . . . to die. To die for you and for me. He died to pay the debt we owed a holy God, a debt bigger by far than all the balances ever owed MasterCard, Visa, Discover, and American Express combined. A debt of sin. And by dying, our Lord Jesus retired that debt. All of it. Every penny.
Now that truth brings hope! It brings peace! It’s a message straight from heaven to our weary world and to all the weary shoppers and weary store clerks and weary food-service employees and weary law enforcement officers and weary delivery truck drivers and weary parents and grandparents in the world. It’s a message of relief, of gladness, of new beginnings. It’s a joy that will never end!
Is it any wonder, then, that the first words from the angelic chorus on that first Christmas night were words of praise?! (Read Luke 2:14.)
Is it any wonder that songs of praise are one of the main features of our Christmas celebration still today? With the psalmist we “praise the Lord!” (Psalm 28:6 NLT) for all his goodness to us in our Savior!
Best. Christmas. Gift. Ever.
And once we receive this gift, we simply can’t keep it to ourselves! Remember, the Bible says, “Christ lives in you” (Colossians 1:27 NLT). That changes everything at Christmastime—and all year long. It changes what we think. It changes what we say. It changes what we do. All because it changes who we are! Saved, we serve. Rescued by Jesus, we get to become more and more like Jesus in our lifestyle.
Editor’s note: Today’s devotion comes from one of CTA’s latest Ministry Messages for Christmas. You can find the ornament that matches this theme at ctainc.com.
You are welcome to copy this article for one-time use when you include this credit line and receive no monetary benefit from it: © 2019 CTA, Inc. Used with permission.