IIT UBF - University Bible Fellowship at IIT

So, This is Christmas

Date: Nov. 21, 2012

Author: Dan Bockenfeld

Christmas is almost upon us. Here in Chicago, Michigan Avenue has been lit up since November, Lincoln Park Zoo has its annual Zoo Lights, one radio station has been playing Christmas music for I don't know how long now, and, my personal favorite because of my Germanic history, the Christkindlmarket is in Daley Plaza. When you go to the stores, the sales are all around, the bell ringers are ringing their bells at nearly every entrance, and decorations abound. At night, houses are lit up with thousands of tiny lights and Christmas trees are all aglow. It's a time where families get together and gifts are exchanged. It's a time when snowmen are made, candy canes are eaten, and hills are destined to be sled.

We all have our ideas about what Christmas is.  My mom loves to decorate the house with all her Christmas decorations.  The tree looks like it is professionally done, every room in the house has some sort of Christmas decor in it, and she spends days making her Christmas cookies.  Plus, she's really going all out this year because it is my daughter's (her first grandchild) first Christmas  For my mom, Christmas is really about family and giving gifts.  My wife, Viola, really loves Christmas music.  She loves hearing it on the radio and having it in the background when she goes to a cafe.  She sings the songs to our daughter and occasionally I hear her singing a carol or two in the summer.  She just loves the Christmas atmosphere. When it is cold outside, Viola and I both like taking candy canes and curling up with a hot chocolate.  I think that my daughter will like all the wrapping paper and ribbons when it comes time to unwrap the presents.  We'll have to make sure that she doesn't try to eat any.

Unfortunately, with all the festivities and good memories that are created during Christmas, there are many out there that for them, Christmas is a hard time.  It is hard to think about presents and giving when you barely have enough money to feed your family.  Christmas can be a time where you really realize what you do not have, especially when you are bombarded with advertising about giving the perfect gift.  Other people may have lost a loved one this year and this is the first Christmas without them.  My cousin Joy, who was not quite 35, died in an accident over the summer and this it the first Christmas without her.  Her siblings and parents could easily feel the pain of her loss again during this time of year.  How hard it must be for parents who have lost young children to cancer. It's heart wrenching to think that Christmas might not be festive for everybody.

The sights, sounds and memories that we associate with Christmas are all good, but if we focus on them, we lose a big part of the equation.  The first six letters of Christmas spell out Christ.  Christmas is the celebration of Jesus' birth.  Notice that I don't say that it is Jesus' birthday.  Jesus was not born on December 25, but it is the day that we celebrate his birth.  We celebrate the day when God came into the world as a little baby that slept on a donkey's dinner plate in order to bring his wayward children back to him.  That part I've known for a while, but what I realized recently is something a little deeper.  Christmas is a time to worship Jesus.

When you look at the Christmas passages in the Bible, you will notice that many of the people involved in the passages are worshiping.  The first to worship was little John the Baptist in his mother's womb.  When he heard Mary tell Elizabeth about everything the angel said, little John did somersaults in the womb (Luke 1:41).  After that Mary breaks out in a song of praise (Luke 1:46). Mary is singing a song of worship.  She's giving herself to God and glorifying him with a song.  When Jesus was born, angels came down to share the news with some shepherds and they worshiped God by singing, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests." (Luke 2:14) Then those shepherds found Jesus and praised God for what they saw.  On the day Jesus was circumcised, Simeon and Anna saw him and again worshiped God.  And, later, when the Magi came to see the King of the Jews, they came to worship him. "On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh." (Matthew 2:11)

We like to think that Christmas is about the coming of Jesus.  We like to think that Christmas is about God giving the greatest gift.  We like to think that Christmas is about joy and peace and the good news coming into the world.  That is all true, but there is a response that we should have.  If we don't have that response, then we are not really seeing Christmas for what it is.  To truly be in the Christmas spirit, we must worship,  I think that God is reminding us that Christmas is for worship because this year Christmas falls on a Sunday, the day most Christians worship. During this Christmastime, do not only think about the baby Jesus, born in a manger to give life to the world, but also worship him. Devote yourselves to him. Those Christmas carols give praises to him, so sing with all your heart.  Merry Christmas.

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