Tradition dictates the way many of us celebrate Christmas. We have traditions for how and where we spend time with family, how we decorate, when we shop, and whether or not we go caroling. We carefully organize the details for each part of our traditional celebration — from wreaths, to trees, to nativity scenes, to charitable contributions, to church productions, meals, and gifts.
But as these traditions take on a life of their own, we can become haggard from attending to all of the details. It might make us wonder why in the world we're doing all of this. Are homespun traditions all that there is to Christmas?
Of course not — Christmas is about celebrating God's goodness to the world through the birth of Jesus Christ. Our Christmas traditions should — in some way — point to God's fulfilled promise of redemption for His people.
God gave fully and loved perfectly in Jesus Christ. He didn't give His gift to beautiful and gracious people who deserved redemption, but to people who were filled with enmity and hatred. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
Love brought Jesus down so that God's people would, once again, have a right relationship with Him. He gave His Son to sleep as a baby in a manger and to toil as a young man in a carpenter's shop. He gave Him to the Pharisees and the Scribes who slandered His immaculate character. He was hungry and thirsty in the midst of dire poverty where He had nowhere to lay His head. He died a criminal's death and took on the sin of the world by being separated — for a time — from His Beloved Father. He took on our destiny of pain, judgment, and death so that we might be reconciled to God.
The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John provide the record of Jesus' three-year ministry of miracles, of his death, burial, resurrection — and ascension. In each record, we see that in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself.
As we prepare for Christmas this season, let us recharge those traditions we have developed, infusing them with new ways to remember and appreciate God's fulfilled promise of redemption.
This year, celebrate the amazing love and generosity of our Father in heaven. May the words of Josef Mohr echo in our hearts:
Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love's pure light;
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.
Excerpted from My Journal, a monthly devotional magazine from Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef.
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