For as long as I can remember, I’ve looked forward to Christmas every year. And not just for its connection to the birth of Jesus. Is it okay for a pastor to say that? Candidly, when I think about my reasons for Christmas excitement over the years, it’s connected to a number of things:
A much longed for Christmas break from school (now called Winter break)
Getting Christmas presents
Hanging out with family
Giving others Christmas presents
Attending Christmas services at church
Cutting down a Christmas tree
A vacation from work
Candle lighting on Christmas Eve
Reading the Christmas Story
Our Christmas Eve picnic by the fireplace (a Gudgel tradition)
Watching movies like White Christmas and Holiday Inn
Playing in or coaching Christmas soccer tournaments
Eating a ton of Christmas cookies
Singing favorite Christmas songs and carols
Attending way too many Christmas parties
Some of the things on my list are connected to Jesus’ birth, but a lot of them aren’t. And that’s okay. Because God never told us to celebrate Christmas. According to biblical history, neither Jesus nor anyone in the early church celebrated Christ’s birthday. That didn’t start until at least 300 years later.
But today, the holiday that we now call Christmas gives us the opportunity to celebrate Jesus’ birth. So we do. Not because we have to, but because we want to. Christmas reminds us of the miraculous way God sent His son to earth for us… as a baby. And Mary & Joseph and the shepherds and angels and wise men rejoiced. And we rejoice.
In the midst of all the Christmas things that you love, may God fill you with joy and peace as you celebrate Jesus’ birth.
by David Gudgel