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Sweet medleys of December enter in twinkly fashion. A little tinsel here, some snow flurries there. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” we’re told.
Do we believe that?
It sure seems like it with all the parties to host, marshmallows to toast, and carols to be sung in the snow. A bustle of festivities galore mixed with cozy fireplace nights make up this remarkable time of year, but is it wonderful for the reasons we think?
The decor and songs and food are simply expressions of something far more wonderful, yet we treat those things as the celebration.
I knew that Christmas is about Jesus; however, mall Santas, gift wishlists, and some of my favorite Christmas movies all seemed to monopolize Christmas in my mind.
Many years I battled to “keep Christ in Christmas,” and I proudly displayed my holiday pencils that read “Jesus is the reason for the season.” However, I found myself living in the dichotomy of celebrating Christmas and Jesus, too. The two shared the season as separate entities.
I viewed Christmas as a competition between God and everything else, when really the fun and beautiful traditions of Christmas are actually in celebration of Jesus.
The holly and jolly parts of Christmas aren’t inherently bad—giving gifts, building gingerbread houses with loved ones, putting up lights or making tasty treats—but without the message of Jesus, those are empty customs.
The true story of the King who came to earth as a baby has changed everything for us.
Let’s recalibrate our focus to the hope for which we celebrate.
Back to the Wonder
Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection were prophecies that no humans could have known on their own. In the first chapter of the New Testament, the prophecy fulfillment began. An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream to make known to him the details of the birth of Jesus, and “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’” (Matt. 1:22–23).
It was happening. The words spoken long ago were coming to light and life. Jesus, for whom the world had been waiting with anticipation for His arrival, was finally here! The virgin birth; the protection of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, despite Herod plotting for His death; the wise men who found Him by following a star—they were all miracles straight from heaven. He put the right people in the right places at the right time for the unfolding of this miracle.
This was good news then, and it is good news now. Good news and great joy for you and me.
As believers, we get to celebrate this goodness all the time, but Christmas is a time to bring us back to the wonder of that night that gave us everlasting peace and joy.
What do we do with the wonder of such joy?
- Are we like the wise men who pursued this Jesus they heard about and “fell down and worshiped Him”? (Matt. 2:11)
- Are we like the shepherds in Luke 2 who made known the good news they had seen and heard? All who heard their testimony “wondered at what the shepherds told them” (Luke 2:18)
- Are we living out of that wonder in worship? Are we proclaiming the wonder to our families, to our neighbors, and to those who hang their stockings with defeated hearts, wondering if there is any hope in this season?
Our celebration of Christmas is more than candy canes and silver bells, more than shopping lists and toy-lined aisles, and more than hollow cheer pasted on our faces. It is an overflow of our joy.
Let the Celebration Begin
The birth of Jesus was wonder-full—as in full of wonder. That is the jaw-dropping wonder that I want to live in this Christmas and every Christmas after that.
The wonder of Jesus re-centers our motivation for Christmas decorating.
The wonder of Jesus gives us the abundance and strength to prepare holiday food.
The wonder of Jesus stirs excitement and selflessness in our souls to delight in gift-giving.
The wonder of Jesus wraps us in close as we struggle through the heartache, remembering the grace for the moment and the redemption that is coming.
This is, indeed, why we celebrate Christmas as the most wonder-full time of the year.
Do something today to remind yourself of the wonder. Maybe you read the words of Matthew 1–2 or Luke 2. Maybe you gather your family around the tree and sing praises to the Lord. Maybe you eat a delicious bite of potatoes and give thanks for the provision of this holiday food. May you experience all merriness and brightness as a reflection of the utmost wonder of God’s love.