“Christmas time is here. Happiness and cheer. Fun for all that children call their favorite time of year. Snowflakes in the air. Carols everywhere. Olden times and ancient rhymes of love and dreams to share. Sleigh bells in the air. Beauty everywhere. Yuletide by the fireside and joyful memories there.” (from A Charlie Brown Christmas)
When I read these words, I envision animated children and a lovable beagle skating on a pond and my heart smiles. How many of us cannot celebrate Christmas without thinking about Charlie Brown, a sad but adorable tree, and Linus teaching us about the true meaning of Christmas?
I Can Tell You What Christmas is All About
Charlie Brown struggled to find what so many of us are searching for this year. He knew he was supposed to be happy, but he was not finding it in all the ways the world tells us to be happy. But, that is not where the story ends. As is often the case, Charlie Brown just needed a good friend to step in and help him shift his perspective. No light display, perfect gift, snowball fight, or (dare I say) counseling session is ever going to fill that void in our hearts, but the true meaning of Christmas can.
As Linus so eloquently stated, “Sure, Charlie Brown. I can tell you what Christmas is all about. Lights please.”
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:8-14, KJV)
That’s what Christmas is all about.
Whether you are newly engaged and elated this season, married with the stress of work and small children, growing older and desperately holding on to your youth, or waiting and wondering if love will ever find you, the Christmas story is the same for us all. The good news is the same for us all. We can be freed from sin and made right with God. Christ came in the flesh to bring us this good news.
- Good news to the children.
- Good news to the broken.
- Good news to the successful.
- Good news to the captive.
- Good news to the happy.
- Good news to the heartbroken.
- Good news to us all.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18-19, ESV)
Just as our beliefs about giving, affection, and family affect our actions, our beliefs about Christmas influence how we interact with the holiday. If we believe Christmas is just another opportunity for stores to make money, we can justify sitting back and letting the holiday pass as if it were just another day. If we believe Christmas is only for children, we can long for the past without giving thanks for what we have right now. If we consider Christmas a time for getting in fights with our family, we can dread it and make excuses to keep our time together short.
But, if we see Christmas as a celebration of God keeping His promise, it changes our perspective completely. It stops being about finding the perfect gift or hosting the perfect party. We stop placing high expectations on our significant others. When we believe Christmas is truly about praising God for sending His son and thanking Jesus for following through (cf. Matthew 26:53-54), we have nothing to feel but gratitude.
When we shift our beliefs about Christmas to Christ, our attitudes and actions change. That is when we start asking the question, “How can I best serve Christ this Christmas?” If we are honest, we serve ourselves all year long. In honor of our Savior, we can make Christmas about Him instead of about us.
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17, ESV)
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27, ESV)
Ten Ways to Spread Christmas Cheer
Consider spreading Christ’s love in at least one of the following ways this Christmas season:
- Delivering Christmas cards with Scripture included to co-workers and neighbors with some yummy treats.
- Purchase Scripture calendars and pass them out to friends and family so they can have God’s Word showing in their homes every day next year.
- Invite someone to church with you and your significant other followed by a lunch invitation.
- Find people who are going to be alone on Christmas and invite them over for a Christmas meal on Christmas Day!
- Make small gift baskets for some widows and widowers in your church or community and drop them off with a visit.
- Volunteer to serve at a soup kitchen or shelter and lead Christmas carols.
- Offer to babysit for a single parent who needs to shop, or who just needs a couple of hours to regroup. Or, offer to babysit for a couple who needs a little time together to get in the Christmas spirit.
- Write a Christmas story, song, or poem, and send it to those you love and those who need encouragement this season.
- Deliver gifts to less fortunate children in the area along with children’s Bibles. (Even better if you can forge a relationship and teach the children about Jesus as you play with them and give them the attention children so desperately crave.)
- Offer free hot chocolate or coffee to last minute shoppers outside of a shop in town (with store’s permission). You can add (theologically correct) gospel tracts with the drinks or simply be available for encouragement and conversation to those who need it!
What is Your Christmas Creed?
We have spent the better part of the year talking about creeds and encouraging you all to go on a belief-discovering (or belief-solidifying) mission with your significant other. There is something about holidays – especially Christmas – which have a way of highlighting what we really believe about life. As you celebrate this year, review your personal creed and your couple’s creed again and notice if your actions are following your declared beliefs, because our actions will always follow our true beliefs.
If you find (and we all do… because we are all a work in progress) that you are not living fully as your creeds declare, ask God to help shape you in those ways. He delights in helping His children grow to be more like Christ.
No matter where, what, or how you are celebrating Christmas this year, we hope and pray you grow closer to Christ and your loved ones. It is a wonderful time to reflect on the lessons of the year, the memories of the past, and the promises of the future. So, settle into your Christmas jammies, sip on some hot chocolate, admire the Christmas tree, and take an emotional break from all the stresses of life. Sit in the stillness and reflect on the goodness of God and the tremendous gift He gave us all when he sent His only son to earth. No matter our circumstances, we are a blessed people for having the opportunity to receive His gift.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, ESV)
What do you believe about Christmas and how do those beliefs shape your perspective each December?