I shared last year in our #Reason for the Season – 25 Days of Thanksgiving series how my mom cultivated a real love for Christmas as she worked tireless to make everything so special. I have so many wonderful memories of the traditions she carried on year after year. Well…this is my first Christmas without her. As I look at the Nativity Set that I inherited from her passing and think about Christmases of long ago, the loss is sorely felt. I have not been “feeling it” this year. It could also be that in the last two months It has been really crazy for me both at work and in our family schedule that I just haven’t had the time to even think about the Advent Season like I did last year. Whatever is the root cause, it has been a little bit tougher to get into the spirit.
One thing that I have been trying to do is saturate myself with music to stir up some Christmas Spirit. What is your favorite Christmas song? Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer? All I Want for Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey? Or perhaps Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee which was one of my Mom’s favorites? If you said yes to the last two then you’re not alone. According to the Billboard’s Top 10 Most Popular Holiday Songs (which was posted last week on 12/7/2016), here are the #1 and #2 songs in that chart’s history:
- “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” Mariah Carey
- “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” Brenda Lee
But my absolute favorite song is what the Billboard chart says is #3 – “The Christmas Song” (Also known as “Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire”) sung by the late great Nat King Cole. From the first familiar sounds of the piano and the bow smoothly gliding across the strings of the violin to these openings lyrics…
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yule-tide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos
I am instantly catapulted into a nostalgic moment that I cannot explain. For me, the song evokes a feeling of warmth and love that embodies what my Mom had created in our home growing up. A nostalgic feeling of days gone by well up within me that pushes out all the stress and hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping from me because after all, Christmas is not about what is under the tree with our names on it. Christmas is spending time with those we love but even more than that, it’s about the little baby lying the manger over 2,000 years ago.
But things have changed dramatically in how this world celebrates or rather, doesn’t celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world! Our culture has become so focused on how everyone “feels” that truth is watered down. It’s no longer a Christmas party, but a holiday party. Instead of saying “Merry Christmas,” we say “Seasons Greetings.” And it’s inconceivable to see a nativity scene in the town square that shows the birth of Jesus because people who don’t believe in Him might be offended. Just because you “feel” a certain way does not mean that should trump the truth. The meaning and purpose of Christmas is to remember the lengths that God went to in order for you and I to have a relationship with Him.
Feelings are not truth, regardless of how much society tries to normalize the removal of Jesus from Christmas. The point of Christmas is not about Christmas parties or family traditions or opening up presents on December 25 (though all are great)…Christmas was the fulfillment of God’s rescue plan to save us from the consequences of our Sin and it pleased Him to do so. How do I know? Ephesians 1:4-5 (NLT) says:
“Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.”
We are so valuable to God that He sent Jesus to be born in a Palestinian stable to a poor couple, and to live in humble obscurity for 30 years in a backwater town until called into ministry. For 3 years Jesus taught the world another way to live that glorifies God and to say no to our fleshly desires which ultimately led to His death on a Roman cross to be the atonement for the sins of the world. Romans 3:21-24 (NLT) says:
“But now God has shown us a way to be made right with Him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.”
Jesus “freed us from the penalty for our sins.”. Sin, yet another aspect of life that culture attempts to desensitize Itself from. Sin is a problem we all have and it must be dealt with one way or another. Many people ignore it, medicate it or outright engage in it but that’s not why Jesus came to earth. It’s interesting that because of belief in Jesus and His teaching about what Sin is, Christians are viewed as being intolerant. But antagonists of the Christian faith are not asking for believers in Jesus to be tolerant or to “get along” with non-believers, but to “go along” with whatever is trending on Twitter. Because a portion of society feels a certain way, the beliefs and values that have been acknowledged for thousands of years as truth, now should be watered down! Feelings are not truth. Here is the truth if you want to live in Heaven, Jesus said:
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 (ESV)
Jesus left His throne in Heaven to the bridge for you and I to heaven by this simple act…
“that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 (NKJV)
The greatest present you could receive this Christmas is the free gift of salvation! All you need to do is believe! This Christmas I want to challenge you to:
Don’t allow the pressure from society to stop you from worshiping Jesus! And as you hear Billboards #1 hit from Mariah Carey for the 1,000th time, think about this message from Jesus in Matthew 11:28 that “All He wants for Christmas is you!”
If you are interested, I posted this in memory of my Mom called:
If you missed the #Reason For The Season series you can catch up.