It's stubborn denial to diminish the significance of Christmas in our world. Even the Cynic is moved to to acknowledge that there is something significant about Christmas that is unique. We even have books about it (see the famous story by Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol") that reveal the foolishness of cynic towards Christmas. But here is the question: What is the significance? What is Christmas about?
Things like Christmas ought to make us reflect and engage with the significance. If its significant, you can't just simply stand by and say "kinda cool", if its significant and you gaze at it, it will draw you in. Christmas is just not about you, your family, and your friends, which is what the par for the course answer is to it's meaning. Think about it, really? All this celebration around the world...for some people you know? It has got to be about something that redefines the way you look at the people in your life. This is the point, Christmas is not about you, its about the Mission of God. Christmas is meant to draw you away from your little mission of you, in which you seek to make everyone and everything in this world work for you (don't you do that? I sure do), and draw you into the celebration of what God has done and is doing in the world. Some of Jesus' first words in the gospel of Luke shed light on this “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.” Christmas is about God setting this world free and redeeming it in Jesus - and we embrace Christmas when it draws us in to join God in that.
Sara Grove’s live Christmas album recorded at a prison has deeply moved me and challenged me, b/c I think she personified for me what Christmas is about. Sara decided to put on a free concert at the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners, inviting them at times to sing with her. What do you think the Prison thought when she asked if she could do a concert for their prisoners? Likely they asked "how much"? She wanted nothing, just to be able to go sing some songs that tell a bunch of people that society has written off a savior has truly come. She said this "More than anything I wanted to say something of encouragement, something to remind these men that they are the art of God, especially in this place. Like always, I left encouraged myself." Christmas is about signing “Joy to the world, the Lord has come” with a bunch of people in prison. It is about us joining with God’s mission in Jesus to set us free from bondage. Now I love my family and friends, and will spend lots of wonderful time with each of them over this season. Don’t hear me discouraging you from enjoying your family, but let me challenge you not to enjoy them in a superficial way. Applying Christmas to your family is not about accepting everyone on their own terms, nor is about being so charitable that we avoid engaging each other as we are. Applying Christmas looks like setting each other free, singing to other’s with our life. More so, its about what God has done, love a bunch of people that should be written off. Go find someone to love and show mercy to, and for God's sake...tell them Merry Christmas.
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