Recently, while preparing to teach a Sunday school class about the story of Christmas, I had to gather a pile of old Christmas cards for an icebreaker activity. The goal of the activity was to spot, from the children’s viewpoint, which cards best portrayed the true meaning of Christmas.
Pictures of silver baubles, red-nosed reindeers, neatly wrapped presents tucked beneath Christmas trees, beautifully decorated wreaths, and of course, Santa with a sack load of presents were in no short supply, as card after card unwittingly told its bit of a commercialized Christmas story.
I must confess that I considered swapping the activity for another, as I struggled to find at least one card that came close to what Christmas was really about. Thankfully, I eventually found one with a picture of a baby in a manger, which I carefully set aside, for fear of losing it in the mess I had now managed to create. Moving on from that experience, I made a mental note to be more intentional in my choice of greeting cards!
Alas, telltale greeting cards are but one of many trappings associated with Christmas in an increasingly secular culture. Love it or loathe it, the yearly buzz around this season is here to stay; so how do Christians celebrate this historic event of our heritage, without getting caught up in the manic tide?
A story within a story
For the vast majority of non-Christians who join in celebrating, Christmas is nothing more than a time to exchange gifts and enjoy some festive food and fun with loved ones. For Christians on the other hand, the stakes are significantly higher; it is a time when we remember a historic moment, not as a standalone event, but as a story within a story.
It is all too easy to become overly familiar with the story of Christmas, that we lose the essence of what it is we’re celebrating. But we are the better for it when we take some time to reflect and recapture the wonder of Jesus’ birth, and where that fits into God’s eternal redemptive plan – a good advent devotional may prove helpful here.
Jesus, the God-man, did not come just so we could get an annual season of merry making, neither did he come to spice up an already good life, he came on a much needed rescue mission. In his own words, “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10).
Without doubt, Jesus’ first coming was a game changer with far reaching implications for an entire human race alienated from God as a result of sin. Jesus’ birth was instrumental in reconciling sinners to a holy God, as the great company of heavenly host proclaimed at his birth:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14.
Many rejoiced at his birth, as they witnessed the fulfilment of prophecies from of old; others, preoccupied with different agendas, missed the import of his coming. Sadly, many more in our day continue to miss out on the joy of knowing the one whose birth Christmas is meant to be all about. Yet, the Bible assures us that the harvest is plentiful. May we be earnest in our prayers, and faithful in our labour to implore on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God.
It goes without saying that without Christ, there really is no Christmas. As we celebrate, let’s endeavor to keep Christ at the centre, rejoicing at what his first coming inaugurated, while anticipating what his second coming will accomplish.
Sike Osinuga is a Christian woman learning the ropes of being a godly wife and mother, one wobbly step at a time. An erstwhile Telecoms Engineer, she enjoys reading good books and writing. Her passion is to know Christ and to make Him known. She blogs at http://www.thrivebytheword.com”