Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The reason for the season

“…a Savior has been born…” –Luke 2:11

This will be the last blog post for a couple of weeks as Jeanie and I head to Baton Rouge and Fort Worth to be with those we love so much. The miles travelled are easily worth the effort to be with family. And this season of joy is easily worth the effort to honor God’s grace in sending His Son. Our kids don't need a 3-hour sermon every night, but they do need to hear that message from mom and dad. They (and we) need to be reminded that candy canes, trees and Santa Claus are fun, but the real joy of Christmas is in celebration of the birth of Jesus.

I grew up attending Arlington Heights United Methodist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. During the worship service, the Methodist church is big into responsive reading where the Minister reads a selected line and then the congregation reads back a response on the next line. It’s pretty efficient and simple.

After a service one day, I asked my dad, “Doesn't the responsive reading seem like a rote and boring way to worship?” My dad replied, “Not if your heart is really in it.” He was absolutely right. It seemed like my dad was always right. Traditions and ceremonies are genuine if I am genuine. I can't look at another person and determine his authenticity. But I can be honest with myself.

That principle fits for Christmas too. There are a lot of reasons to get excited about this season: candy, gifts and days off from school and work. But if I am genuinely celebrating the birth of Jesus, then Christmas carols and traditions take on a whole new meaning.

Teach your kids about the true meaning behind the Christmas traditions. Granted, Frosty the Snowman and the Grinch don't have much of a spiritual message. The typical nativity scene may not be totally accurate, but it does depict the birth of the Christ-child.

Don't overanalyze it all. Keep it simple just like God kept it simple in his whole design of Christmas. Be intentional as you’re with family this holiday. Take the time to pray before meals and make mention of the timeline leading up to Christmas day. I know December 25th probably wasn’t the actual birthday, but again, relax, take a deep breath and enjoy the blessing. It’s close enough.

Before you open gifts on Christmas morning, acknowledge the greatest gift of them all, the gift of Jesus Christ. Read John 3:16 and remind your family that God sent His only Son that we might have eternal life. Sweaters and Playstations will pass away, but the gift of Jesus is eternal.

Have a wonderful Christmas with your family and don't forget the reason for season. Enjoy the eggnog and football, but be sure and lead your family in remembrance of our wonderful God’s grace in sending His Son.

The reality of Jesus birth trumps any gift under the tree. Just ask your kids what they got for a gift 5 years ago. Most won't remember. But we all marvel again at the babe called Jesus.

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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