Another year has passed and the presents have been wrapped with a bow on top and a name on each gift. This evening will hold surprises for those who celebrate on the eve. Others will be touched by the presents they open on the morn of Christmas.
Still others, much like my family, have already met and exchanged gifts. The pace of our current lives doesn’t allow us to be together on Christmas.
But I can assure you, from the heart of one proud grandpa and dad, the meaning is just as deep and the emotions are just as thrilling. I got to spend time with both of my kids and all of my grandkids, as far as I am concerned, that's what make my Christmas bright.
I am sitting here thinking about all the things that go on during this season. Parties, church, family gatherings, holiday shows, and shopping. There’s a lot of things that vie for our attention. Most of you, like me, are busy.
Nothing wrong with busy.
I am not of the cloth to try to shame you for all of the activities you have during this Christmas season. As a matter of fact, I am of the belief that the ONLY reason we do ANY of this, is because a baby was born in a manger over 2,000 years ago.
You won’t get any “you’re too busy” types of statements from me. No “shamey, shame, shame" at the lips of this preacher.
Instead, I am thankful for these many things which call us and ask for our time. They actually testify to the power Christmas has to transform the average person into a giver, not a taker.
And so it goes, the stores are packed, the traffic is crazy, the food more amazing.
People are thinking about others more than them themselves. That’s not such a bad thing, is it?
As I write these words my mind goes to the many cherished memories of family and friends gathering around a common meal or a Christmas program/church service. It warms my insides and makes me thankful for the experiences God has given me over time.
And I get wrapped up in my heart over Christmas once again.
The heart of this season of lights shines it’s powerful grace into the dark places the year have brought.
Maybe you’re needing a reminder, not because you’re too busy, but because your heart has forgotten the gift.
It could be weariness from this year’s struggles and strife. From job changes to family deaths, you’re about tuckered out.
Maybe it’s because you’ve never opened your gift. For whatever reason, Christmas has been a holiday, not a holy day to you.
I understand. It’s ok.
But to each of you, I invite you to join me for a few moments and let’s get ourselves all wrapped up in Christmas, again.
Earlier I spoke of presents, they are all wrapped and the top of the box, sort of the crescendo of our wrapping prowess, is a bow.
Give me a few more minutes of your time, let me share my BOW…
Here’ how I got all wrapped up in Christmas again this year…
First, I began to “B” - “Believe in Christmas”...again. I’m not talking about believing the manger story, the shepherd's words, the angel's songs nor the wise men testimony. Each of them is part of the story, but they are not what I believe in.
I believe that Jesus was REALLY born as a baby and although he was God, he still came in the form of a man, taking on flesh and blood, just like me. He was as human as I was but as divine, as he had always been.
Can’t totally explain it to you, so I won’t waste your time and mine on a long dissertation to convince you.
The cool thing about Jesus is that although many don’t trust him as Savior, most people, of all walks of life, now believe that Jesus actually lived and died here on this earth. That he IS not just a story, but he is a man who occupied time in history. A real man. He had a birthday and a grave.
What happened to him many may debate, but their historicity of Jesus is accepted by many. Many more than a few naysayers would have you believe. I think one of the reasons they keep up the heat about their “anti-Jesus” perspective is that IF he really was a man, they have to deal with his claims. (Take a moment and check out this video about the historical Jesus.)
Maybe you are a believer who has become discouraged by some article you read or some video you watched. Your faith WAS strong, but now you’re not sure. You are not alone. Even John the Baptist sent word to Jesus to confirm whether he was the Son of God or not. John’s head was on the block to be lopped off. He didn’t want to die for a lie, no one does.
Luke, a man who interviewed a number of Jesus’ followers, wrote about this in his account of Jesus’ life. It’s found in the portion known as chapter 7. Feel free to pick up a Bible and check out what he learned from eyewitnesses.
Christian, the follower of Jesus, peripherally wandering and wondering, stop for a moment. Look, not just into the face of a baby, but into the face of Jesus. The man who lived in history and the reason ANY of the Bible even exists.
Don’t misquote me here, looking just at the Bible may not help you believe in Christmas, but looking at the man of Jesus may.
Let the reality of his historical arrival help you take a risk and believe in Christmas, the time of his birth, again.
If looking from the outside of faith and wondering what all the “stuff” those Christians do really mean, I invite you to do the same. Don’t allow the distractions of the people who aren’t perfect to interfere and decide for you, since there are people who follow who aren’t “all that”, don't assume Jesus isn’t either. That would be a mistake.
Ask someone, anyone, what they believe about Jesus. The funny part is that everyone and I mean everyone, has an opinion about him. There are more opinions about Jesus than ANY other religious figure who ever lived.
Don’t try to corner me just because I called Jesus a religious figure, I am just stepping into the vernacular of the many who do not believe, for illustration's sake.
The “many” opinions would beg the question, why is it that no matter what belief system there is, they eventually get around to addressing WHO Jesus is. Muslim. Mormon. Christian. Buddhist. Even Communism, with its atheistic core, has an opinion of Jesus.
Yet, the vast majority of those other belief systems do not take the time to address their beliefs on the other religious figures around them. Just this one man, Jesus.
With all that said, let me invite you, as an onlooker, to take a risk, investigate the man of Jesus. Don’t try to discredit him because he has imperfect followers, just look and ask. Did he really live? What did he say about himself? Is what he said credible and if you will allow yourself to believe in Christmas...again.
Which leads me to the second letter of the BOW…
“O” - “Open Your Heart” to the man of Christmas. He’s the reason there is even a story of Christmas. Think about this… You would not be getting presents if he wasn’t born. You would not have time off if it wasn’t for his birth. Kinda an interesting thought isn’t it. So, be brave, for a just a moment, and open your heart to the man of Christmas. Not the spirit of, good tidings of, glory and splendor of, but the Man of Christmas. You owe yourself a look at that man that started all the hoopla we know as the Christmas season.
Let’s “wrap it up” with the BOW… by closing with them…
“W’ … “Welcome the babe/man of Christmas” into your world. If after you’ve taken a few moments and examined the “Man” of Christmas and deem him to be worthy of an invite, welcome him to your abode.
It may be the best Christmas you’ve ever had with the most meaningful gift you’ve ever received.