Christmas is coming! Christmas is coming! Are you excited?
I sure am! It’s the day that we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s a pretty big thing, isn’t it?
I know a lot of people who just aren’t in the Christmas mood or spirit yet. A lot has happened this year that’s just got people tired out or just thinking about some pretty, heavy and serious things.
Because we’re feeling tired and a great amount of discord, we might not feel like celebrating. But we need to. It’s as important as celebrating one of our own friends’ or family members’ birthday.
The highs and lows of celebrating Christmas
With the celebration of Jesus’ birth, we have the benefit of the complete record of his life to know what will eventually happen when we work towards Easter. From the get-go, our Lord will be a fugitive refugee who will be persecuted beyond anything that we can ever imagine.
Yet, at the same time, we have a hard time remembering the bad parts of the birth story. We forget that his mother probably had to bear potential social ostracizing and maybe there was even talk of stoning her. We forget that for a moment Joseph considered ditching Mary (Matthew 1:18, 19). We forget that Jesus’ birth place was of the lowliest means with the beasts of burden, which is appropriate since Christ bears all of ours (Matthew 11: 28, 29; Psalm 55:22, et al). We forget that as a baby, he was forced to flee and become a refuge in the care of his earthly parents (Matt. 2: 13-18). We forget all the times he was questioned, cursed, doubted by various groups during his life. And we forget that he was persecuted in order to save us from our sins and death.
At Christmas, we want to forget all the bad parts of Christ’s life. Just for one day, we want to look at Jesus as a little baby. A sweet, sweet baby. Somehow, this helps us to forget all the bad in the world.
And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that.
Celebrating our brother’s birthday
When we celebrate our friends’ and family members’ birthdays, we do the same thing. We tend to look back to the start of our relationship with them and recall all the silly, fun stuff about them. We sit around and tell those stories, laugh and celebrate the person.
We forget that just last week we had a fight with that person. We forget all the stuff about that person that bothers us. We forget that that person is struggling with something serious in their lives and we want them to be happy for just one day.
As parents, when we celebrate the birth of our own children, we forget that they weren’t so sweet and innocent as babies. We only remember, fondly, how beautiful and lovely the experience of being their parent was.
Celebrating Christmas and thinking about Jesus as the sweet little baby in the manger doesn’t make us forget all the bad things that will happen to him. Instead, by remembering Jesus as that little baby, we’re celebrating the best thing in the world.
We’re celebrating a relationship with him, which in my honest opinion, is the greatest gift of all.
We’re looking back on his life and remembering his beginnings because that’s what we do for people we love when we celebrate their birthday. Just as we’re adopted into his family (Ephesians 1:3-10), we’ve adopted him into ours. We celebrate the fact that he became one of us (John 1:14) by honoring him with our human experience. Part of that human experience is sharing our birthday traditions of looking back on our lives and our loved ones lives.
On Christmas Day, when you celebrate and worship Jesus Christ as the Lord of Lords, Prince of Peace, and Savior of the World, remember to worship him as your brother, too. Thank him for your relationship with him. Try to remember the joy and wonder of when you first met him. Honor him with a birthday celebration, just as you would any one of your other friends or family members, because that’s what he is. He is God, and he is your brother.
Merry Christmas, my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. And Happy Birthday, Jesus!
Note: It doesn’t matter that December 25 probably wasn’t Jesus’ birthday, and he certainly wasn’t the Caucasian we picture him as. What IS important that December 25th is the day Christians all over the world, join together to celebrate his birth. Every race and culture depicts Christ as one of their own. That is also part of showing a shared relationship with him, as both our Lord and as our brother.