It’s hard to be a Christian at Christmas. Christmas started as a pagan holiday. It still is a pagan holiday. Nobody actually celebrates Jesus on Christmas, they’re too distracted by presents and media.
I hear things like this a lot during Christmas. When I do, the pragmatist in me wants to hate Christmas. It wants to shun it and have nothing to do with the gifts, the decorations, the caroling, the white elephant parties, or anything remotely Christmas-y. Growing up, I was taught that Christmas was the day when Jesus was born. That two thousand years ago the God of the universe became flesh and dwelt among us. That Emmanuel, my personal savior, was born of a virgin and lay in a dirty manger with two scared teenagers who had nothing to hold on to except the word of an angel who had spoken to them nine months before. But as I got older I realized that’s not really what Christmas is about. Jesus was probably born sometime in Spring. Christmas really did start out as a pagan holiday. Christmas is about all the things I just mentioned. It’s all about the gifts, decorations, and spending time with the people you love.
Having said that, I have a decision to make. Do I sit and stew in anger that Christmas isn’t really about Jesus? Am I supposed to shun all normal American (and even my own family) traditions about Christmas and try to only think about Jesus? Or is it possible to just embrace Christmas for what it is?
That right there is something I’ve never seriously tried. I think this year it’s ok to just embrace Christmas for what it is and try to appreciate Jesus because He’s the only reason it’s possible for me to have peace and enjoy a holiday at all. So here’s two reasons why that might work out for me.
1. Church keeps us focused on Jesus
All good Christians celebrate the birth and work of Jesus every single day right? No. Sometimes we forget to. Sometimes we don’t feel like it. Sometimes we actually don’t want to. But if you go to church during December, you’re sure to be greeted by a sanctuary with a Christmas tree right next to a cross, a worship team singing about Jesus’ coming, and a pastor preaching about how amazing God is and how indescribably wonderful it was for Him to send Jesus to us. It’s easy enough to walk into church during the rest of the year and not pay enough attention to the service to have a clear idea about what you’re supposed to be focusing on by the end, but you can’t do that during Christmas. If you walk into a church anytime in December, you have no choice but to think about and appreciate the coming of Jesus.
2. Christmas is a cool time of year
Why is Christmas, the most significant and cheery holiday of the year, during the season with the gloomiest weather? Isn’t that the time when people should want to just stay home and not talk to people? It doesn’t make any sense. The natural world says that people should be less happy, but most people are happier regardless. It’s because of Christmas. Christmas means people get to take breaks from work and school and can spend more time with friends and family. It means it’s time to enjoy getting gifts for loved ones. It’s time to go caroling and sing songs of general happiness. It’s time to look at Christmas lights. Christmas is an all around good time of the year.
God came into the world as a baby named Jesus. This is, in my opinion, the most impressive miracle in the history of the universe. We ought to celebrate it everyday, but we don’t. Christmas is as good a time as any to celebrate it with special attention. Because of the church, I think it’s the best time of the year to do so. If you have issues with Christmas, I’d encourage you to give it a chance this year. Celebrate Jesus and celebrate Christmas too. Both can be done at the same time.