Christmas comes like an avalanche—we’re overwhelmed with a calendar crammed with social events, a long shopping list for family and friends, and a feeling that there’s no way we can get everything done in time. Why does this seem to happen every year? Could it be that we’ve let our American culture’s materialistic focus replace a heartfelt celebration of joy at the thought of God sending us a Savior?
By the time we reach the Christmas Eve candlelight service and sing “all is calm…”, nothing is. Frenetic hectivity has stolen the shalom God offers us. We’re buried under cold impersonal commercialism that focuses on gift-giving without much consideration of giving ourselves. We’re paralyzed by icy individualism that insists we get what we want for Christmas, without much thought at all of what Jesus might want for Christmas.
I don’t mean to come across as a cantankerous Scrooge or a bad-tempered killjoy. I just hope we don’t miss Christmas. If we’re not careful, we can get so busy that that the season passes over us like a plane at night or in the clouds, heard but not really seen.
Christmas is a season of hope—pointing to the Savior able to give us the contentment we need, sweeter than Santa Claus’ promise to bring us more things we want that will later be tossed in a dumpster. Merchants have practically stolen the season by their message of “Buy, buy, buy”. Even so, this season is about God, who sent His Son into this world so that the world through him might be saved.
We naturally think of this time as a season of receiving. Think of what we can receive from God—salvation from our sins, a sense of belonging to Jesus, a grand purpose that makes life an adventure, and work to do in His Kingdom. All of this is part of the hope that is ours from our relationship with Christ.
We also think of this season as a time of giving. What can we give to God this year to express our faith and obedience? What can we give His church to spread the message about Christ and His love? What about giving our hearts to Christ—better than a shepherd’s lamb or a wise man’s part? In the near future we’ll be purchasing a new church sign to inform drivers of more than 9,000 vehicles driving by this building every day what we’re about as the Lord’s people. Maybe you’d like to make a donation to help raise money for this special project.
Let’s celebrate Christmas God’s way this year—thanking heaven for eternal hope, expressing love to our friends on this journey of faith, and giving sincere praise to God. Paul’s prayer in Romans 15:3 is my prayer for you—I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
If we celebrate Christmas properly, it will not feel like an avalanche, but a gentle snowfall—reflecting hope from beyond the stars, echoing peace we have from our relationship with Jesus, and sparkling joy like the pleasure of the company of Christ, the perfect gift.
Pastor Johnny R. Almond
Hull's Memorial Baptist Church
Friends on a Journey of Faith