by Christopher McRae, Discipleship Team Leader
A Deeper Reason
Christmas is about far more than “The Wee Baby Jesus” born “Away in a Manger.” The story is grander than an event that occurred “Far, Far Away on Judea’s Plains.” “He Whom Joyous Shepherds Praised” did not come just for picture postcards and pageants.
The “Star of the East” accompanied by a choir of “Angels from the Realms of Glory” declared the message. It was the next step in God’s renewal of creation through his redemption of mankind. “Angels O’er The Fields Were Singing” about the “Advent of Our God.” For “The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns.” This new day is “The Birthday of a King” who is “Man’s Redeemer, Holy Jesus” bringing many sons and daughters to glory.
“God With Us, Immanuel” has come to make his dwelling among us for a time in order to accomplish the perfect plan made before the world was created. “God Loved the World” and chose us in Christ to be “Faithful, Glad, Joyful, and Holy” — innocent in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us home through “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
“The Triumphs of the Heaven’s King” demonstrated that God wasn’t done with humanity. There was “A Lost and Sinful World to Save.” Though sin and death had ascended, the enemy would be defeated. So, “Sing Out A Song Of Victory,” “Sing Out Your Gladsome Carols,” “Sing Praise To God, The Greatest Good.”
“Glad News, Glad News” is the reason that we sing of “A Wondrous Child, The Virgin-born” and “The Little Town of Bethlehem.” It is not simply so that we could take a break from the dreary winter of our lives. It is a grand re-creation when the old is gone. The One sitting on the throne declares, “Look, I am making everything new!”
And now this Good News has been “Announced in the Heavens on a Midnight Clear” to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the “Angels Adore Him” and are eagerly watching these things happen.
“The Baby of Bethlehem” was sent for us to experience the real life intended when God formed humanity in his image, breathing into us a Living Soul. This was God’s ultimate purpose — a people like himself. Sin and Death would not stand in his way! “The Blessed Birth” of Jesus, his Life, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension “From Glory Unto Glory” is the Way, the Truth and the Light.
A Childlike Reminder
Now, with all that as background, amidst all the Christmas carols we’ve known, loved and sung, there are also the fun songs we heard as children. One can’t help but smile on hearing “Rudolf, the Red Nosed Reindeer” or “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth,” and that all-time classic, “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”
Entering the Advent season, we do well to remember why we “Rejoice, Rejoice!” But I want us to think about how God works in our lives to transform us into the likeness of Jesus. We’ll be changed from the inside out. We need to readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. In this context, I want to take a turn playing on that old holiday favorite, “On the First Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me…” We know the song well even if we get mixed up about whether the Drummers Drumming come before or after the Lords A-Leaping.
For each of the weeks of Advent I will examine briefly several of the disciplines that Christ-followers are called to practice. I want to call this “The Twelve Disciplines of Christmas.” Practice these on a daily basis and you will have the best season ever of celebrating the birth of the Messiah. He is the one whose life changes us and makes us into the people we were created to be. We will find ourselves re-created into Christ-likeness by the grace of God.
On the Days of Christmas
- Patience — It seems that at this time of year it’s more easy to misplace the calming sense of perspective that regularly guards our attitude. I’ve even found myself getting frustrated with others who lose their cool. Whether I’m waiting in the longest line ever or when I get cut off in traffic or as I’m hurrying out of the house with places to be and things to do, I need to slow down, take a breath, and remember that God isn’t finished with any of us yet…and most especially, He’s working in me.
- Generosity — This means more than buying a lot of gifts and lavishly bestowing your largesse upon loved ones. One of the most generous things you can do during this busy season is to take the time to listen carefully and caringly to those that the Holy Spirit brings across your path. Let’s consider that these “divine appointments” upsetting our carefully planned agenda for the day are opportunities to give the gift of your presence this season. Generosity that is begrudging is never godly. Cheerful giving brings joy to recipients and satisfaction to your own soul.
- Moderation — We are an excessive people. We even go to extremes in our temperance. I’m not as concerned with a superabundance of celebration as I am with overdoing the whole commercial aspects of our consuming culture. It is worth noting that extremism in the worship of our God is no vice! Neither is moderation in the rejection of worldly values a virtue! Work during these days to keep things in their proper order. Gift-giving should be done with a restrained open-handedness but awe before our God and Savior should be entered with abandoned joy.
In the days ahead when you hear this song, remember:
“On the Third Day of Christmas my True Love Gave to me:
Three drops of moderation,
Two heaps of generosity,
and a pack of patience in a time of need.”
Practice these daily and this Christmas season may truly be the best you’ve ever experienced.