During this holiday season I’ve been a bit sparse with the weekly pastor blog. But I wanted to get one out on this year’s reflection of Christmas. Yesterday, Pastor Byron wrapped up our Christmas series. You can hear the full message here. Today I’d like to reflect on a more traditional staple of Christmas in our culture, the family gathering.
Many of our now Christmas traditions have their origins in Victorian England, with a smattering from Germany. One of the established traditions has been the family gathering. Christmas has been a time for family to get together. It is one of the few times in the year when all of the family gathers together. Whether geographical distance or work demands, many family members don’t get together en masse throughout the year. In the US, sometimes this happens during Thanksgiving. It is supposed to be a time of joyous reunion, gift giving, food, and company.
In the midst of what we now call “culture wars,” one of the best things we can do to preserve the Christmas traditions of celebrating Jesus’ birth, celebrating family, and focusing on others is to continue practicing the traditions. Inviting friends and family together for a Christmas meal is one of the best ways to ensure the tradition continues.
In the midst of what we now call “culture wars,” one of the best things we can do to preserve the Christmas traditions of celebrating Jesus’ birth, celebrating family, and focusing on others is to continue practicing the traditions
When we have Christmas traditions, as Christians it is important to remember the centrality of Jesus in the celebrations. True, many of our families may not be followers of Jesus, but that doesn’t mean the celebration can’t still be genuine to those that do believe.
Christmas is special because Jesus came to redeem the world. Christmas carols are filled with the Gospel message. They were designed to be songs of worship. And we can keep those designs in our hearts when we hear and sing them. When I’m singing to myself or to my baby girl, I still get choked up when I sing parts of “O Come, O Come, Immanuel.” There is such a profound meaning in the words that moves me every time I hear it. I want to be moved emotionally like that when I reflect on the Christmas season. Our eternal life and future blessings start with Jesus coming. I know it’s easy to view Christmas as just another day, or see it as a commercialized fiasco, even as a Christian. But reflecting on the meaning of Christmas in a Jesus centered way is the best approach to ensuring the influence of the Christmas traditions in our culture.
There are times and places to engage in the cultural wars of our society. There is even time and place to combat the undermining of the Christmas Season with “Happy Holidays” to be pluralistically inclusive. I’m not denying that. I am, however, affirming that on Christmas day, the best thing we can do is practice the traditions as we reflect on the meaning of Jesus. It’s one thing to talk about it and argue it as a cultural idea. It is another thing to create a space in our hearts and minds to revere the sacredness of Jesus’ coming. We call it a holiday because it was originally a “holy day.”
On Christmas day, the best thing we can do is practice the traditions as we reflect on the meaning of Jesus
There are sacred pillars in the Gospel message. Two of these pillars are the remembrance of Jesus’ virgin birth and the remembrance of his death and resurrection. Those are both built into the structure of the Christmas and Easter traditions. So it is important to remember to practice our Christmas traditions because it helps ensure the structural continuity of remembering the work of Jesus.
Those are my brief reflections on the Christmas season this year. I hope you are all able to enjoy the presence of family and friends as you remember and celebrate the coming of Jesus in the context of relationships. If you aren’t able to be with family this year, I pray you are able to find an outlet to share in the Christmas traditions with others.
I hope this week’s post has helped you experience our Lord’s
Presence. Love. Power.