Over the course of a year, I don’t believe there is another time in which there are as many Gospel symbols littered across our paths than Christmastime. Just today, as I left my house, I passed two Christmas trees topped with a bright and shining star, a few nativities scattered decoratively around the house, candy canes, and Christmas cards with wise men, shepherds and the manger prominently displayed. Everywhere I turn, I hear and see gentle reminders of our Savior’s birth. But, even with the reminders everywhere, it’s the easiest season to miss the purpose of each of these reminders. In the midst of the going and coming to and fro, there are endless gifts to buy, budgets to balance, schedules to coordinate, decorations and parties that need to be attended to and mountains of cleaning and preparations. December 26 can came with sighs of, “Phew, glad that’s over!”
I don’t really want to say it out loud, but there’s almost no time for Jesus. Like the innkeeper, there’s no room in the going and coming to stop and reflect on His goodness to us by coming to make His dwelling amongst us. The reminders we’ve placed on our path to point our eyes and hearts upward have become a cumbersome decoration instead of a Gospel beacon to remind ourselves and our loved ones of exactly why we celebrate. I imagine these reminders were set up because those who came before us wrestled with this same thing year after year. I imagine the rationale as, “If we make a replica of the nativity, then we’ll remember to reflect on each character of the story this Christmas season.” Or, “Each time we give out or eat this candy cane, we’ll remind ourselves of the crimson stain of sin and the blood of Christ that washed it white as snow.”
There just seems to be no time to stop and look at the nativity and see what all it represents. The juxtaposition of grungy, dirty shepherds worshiping the new Savior along with the story of wise and noble men humbling themselves at the cradle of an infant King. Two, surely scared and overwhelmed, parents looking lovingly at their newborn son, remembering all the things the angel had told them about his future. The stable, the manger, the animals – all reminders of God’s perfect purpose of redemption in a world full of shepherds, nobles, dirty, clean, wise, overwhelmed, scared and fearful souls.
These beautiful symbols that we’ve set up clearly remind us of why we celebrate—if we let them.
Christmas is either the most Gospel-centered time we have all year or the most culture-centric time we’ll experience. We either surround ourselves with the hope of our Savior or we meander through a stressful season neglecting any sort of purpose other than surviving.
In almost all ways, Christmas points our eyes, our hearts, our ears, our minds, our souls to Christ. Don’t allow this Christmas slip away with trinkets strewn about the house or numbingly familiar tales being told.
Pause, reflect and take joy in what God did, through Jesus.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, ,so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11 ESV)