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Celebrating Christmas...or Jesus?

Jesus is the reason for the season.

If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, I’m assuming you’ve probably heard that phrase before, specifically being associated with the Christmas season. If you haven’t heard that phrase, it’s a true statement. Jesus is the reason for the season. 

However, while we Christians believe that statement to be true, it doesn’t take long to notice that the majority of our culture doesn’t seem to see it that way. Christmas, culturally speaking, is all about buying and receiving presents, decorating the Christmas tree, hanging Christmas lights, eating tons of food, reindeer, Christmas carols, and telling stories of a secret present deliverer that shall remain nameless.

Of course, in and of themselves, these things are not wrong or sinful yet have you ever stopped to think about why we do these things every year? Is it because of family traditions or is there some significance to these things? How do these things relate to Jesus being the reason for the Christmas season? What do all those things and Jesus have in common? Anything?

Typically, if we’re being honest, the Christmas season is one massive exercise in missing the point.

If Jesus is truly the reason for the season, then Jesus should be the centerpiece of Christmas, not the add-on.  

As we look at Matthew 2:1-12 this Sunday, I want to encourage you to be reading at home personally and with your family. The story is remarkable. This may be a story you’ve heard before. The Magi, or “wise men,” who are technically not a part of God’s chosen people, come to King Herod, in Jerusalem, seeking to find this new baby boy who they believe is the true King of the Jews. At this point, the Magi have already traveled approximately 800 miles which would have taken them about 40 days. They knew the prophecy about Jesus being the Messiah had come true and they actually had inform Herod of this as they quote Micah 5:2. When they learned that Jesus wasn’t in Jerusalem, they quickly traveled an additional six miles to Bethlehem where they found Jesus. Before we get into more of the story, stop for a second and think about what your pursuit of Jesus looks like? Is it comparable to these wise men that didn’t even know who Jesus really was or believe in the God of Israel?

The story continued and they found Jesus in Bethlehem.  Immediately they did three things: they rejoiced at the sight of the star that guided them to Jesus, they immediately fell down and worshipped Jesus, and then they offered him precious gifts. They knew that this child was the one and only King of the Jews. Ironically, these non-Christian wise men gave presents to Jesus and yet today Christians buy gifts for others and ourselves. Where is Jesus in that equation?

What if you gave Jesus a gift this Christmas?

Maybe you give Jesus a gift in terms of offering your time, talent, or treasure? You could write down your idea on a piece of paper, put it in a small box, wrap it, and open it along with the other presents. What sacrifice will you make to give to our King Jesus? He’s worth it, right?

The wise men sacrificed a lot just to see Jesus for a few moments. They traveled many miles, gave their time, gave their resources, and gave their worship for this King. They did all of this because of who Jesus is – the true King. What do you need to sacrifice to acknowledge Jesus’ rightful place in your life? Is he your King? Do you bow at his feet? If not, at what throne do you bow? Culture? Comfort? Tradition? Apathy? Pride?

There can only be one King. His name is Jesus. Are you worshipping Him this Christmas, or something else?

How can you and your family make Jesus the center of your Christmas traditions this year?

 

Some potential idea starters:

- Do an advent calendar reading personally and with your kids

- Read the Jesus Storybook Bible stories leading up to Christmas

- Talk often about the true meaning of Christmas

- Pray with your kids and be thankful for King Jesus

- Encourage each member of the family to give gifts to Jesus (time, talent, treasure)

- Celebrate Jesus however you can

 

My hope and prayer for us all is a new and fresh perspective on Christmas as we put Jesus in His rightful place.  This Sunday we're starting a simple, 2-part series for Christmas.  I hope you'll be our guest. 

Pastor Brett

 

In addition, here's an update message from Pastor Bryan: