This Christmas has been a bit different than most. It has had fewer gatherings, a lack of parties, and commercials on TV promoting celebrating Christmas online with family rather than together.
It has been different for our family in that there is a big whole left since my dad has gone home to be with the Lord.
And though things have certainly been different this year, none of the missing elements have made it any less Christmas.
The truth is despite the decoration or lack thereof. Despite the cold temperatures or sunny hot temperatures, it is still Christmas. Without the gatherings, parties, and caroling, Christmas still has come.
I’m sure if we had been there that first Christmas, it would be far removed from our normal celebrations, even our celebrations this year. For that first Christmas took place not in a nice comfy home with Christmas lights glowing. It took place in a stable.
That first Christmas wasn’t filled with family or friends, it was simply Mary, Joseph, some animals, and shepherds.
There were not fancy gifts, only the Gift, who came to save.
And there lacked any special traditions, mulled cider, or sugary sweets.
Christmas has become a lot of what we have made it through the years.
Growing up, our family would travel to my grandmothers house (over the mountains, and through the woods you know) every Christmas Eve. We’d celebrate Christmas with my grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Then we would travel back home. Once we arrived home, we’d turn on all the Christmas lights, light the candles, and turn off the overhead lights, so that the living room took on a glow.
My dad would strain to see the words on the pages of his Bible as he would read to us Luke 2. Then he’d close us in prayer, the lights would come on, the candles were blown out, and we’d each get to open one gift (yes, you guessed it, Christmas pajamas.) After changing into our new duds, we’d fine a Christmas movie to watch, and then call it a night.
Last night, we did all of the above with our kids as well, as we have done most of these same things year after year as they have grown up.
Why? Because this makes it Christmas? No, because even if none of the above took place, it would still be Christmas.
Truthfully, we put a lot of stock into Christmas, but tragically December 26 rolls around, and life goes back to “normal.”
I’ve always hated the day after Christmas, yet isn’t that sad. Because if Christmas day changes nothing, then we have missed the point.
Tonight as Eric read from Luke 2, he didn’t stop where my dad used to stop in the story after reading about the shepherds. He continued reading until the end. One thing struck me as he continued his reading. For in the same chapter which contains the story of Jesus birth, Jesus’ death is also for told.
Christmas is way more than traditions, it is far more than just the birth of our Savior. For if the story had stopped there, then we’d be no better off than the followers of various religions world wide.
But it didn’t end there, Christmas is simply the beginning. For because of Christmas, we have Easter, and because of both of these, we have the hope and the promise of the second coming of Christ.
At Christmas we celebrate the fact that He came the first time, but we should continue to celebrate because He will come again.
And until that day comes, we are to live in anticipation of His second coming, seeking to be His light in this dark, dark world.
In John 1, we are told that the light came, but the people walking in darkness could not comprehend it. Sadly, it is much the same today.
Yet, as believers, we have hope and we have the promise that He will come once more.
So though December 26th will most certainly come, may we not loose the hope of Christmas in the days ahead.
For we have hope because of our humble Savior who came that first Christmas, and who will one day come again.