“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over His kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)
“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”(John 1:10-13)
“Let the children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Luke 18:16b-17)
Today I bring you “good tidings of great joy”. (Luke 2:10) You do not have to approach this Christmas season cynically preoccupied with the stark contrast between the spirit of Christmas and the present spirit of our nation.
You do not have to approach this Christmas with the debilitating stress of “too much to do” and “too much to buy”.
You do not have to approach this Christmas with an attitude jaded by incessant commercialism, the intrusiveness of semi-pagan rituals and myths like Santa Claus, or even the awareness we don’t really know the day of the year when Jesus Christ was born.
You can, if you choose, approach this Christmas with a childlike heart.
Read the scriptures that begin this column. We were given a child from God so we can become children of God, but we won’t truly receive the blessings of the child God gave to us until we begin to think, feel and behave like the children of God we have become. (Say what?)
It is not enough for me to simply say I am a child of God. To think, feel and behave like a child of God requires that I have a childlike attitude about my new and everlasting identity. I become, like every healthy child, someone who delights in my new life, eager to learn and do all the things I was previously unable to learn and do, and trustingly dependent on the ones who watch over me and love me beyond measure: my heavenly Father God; my eldest brother, Jesus Christ, the Savior King; and the Holy Spirit of the Lord, who conceived Jesus within Mary and now lives within me.
When I approach Christmas with a childlike heart, Christmas becomes my personal celebration of my Savior King’s birthday. I take joy in my salvation! (Psalm 51:12)
When I approach Christmas with a childlike heart, I take joy in the fact Jesus’ birthday is so special it is celebrated by both people who believe in Jesus Christ and people who don’t. I take joy in seeing the preparations for His birthday stretch through and beyond the whole month of December. I take joy in hearing over and over again that God loves the world and that His desire is peace on earth, goodwill toward men.
I take joy in the fact so many families come together for Christmas, despite being scattered the rest of the year, and in seeing how much love can flow as they share traditions, memories and the new things happening in their lives.
I take joy in watching how much happiness can come from the thoughtful giving and receiving of gifts. I take joy in singing and listening to beautiful songs. I take joy in the lights and greenery that brighten up an otherwise cold and barren winter. I particularly take joy in watching children laugh and play because it reminds me how much my heavenly Father desires for me to laugh and play.
When I approach Christmas with a childlike heart, the blinders come off and I no longer tune out or take for granted the things I have “become used to”. I look at the Christ child in the manger, surrounded by the poor and rich and angelic, and I see the billions of children in there with Him. We will follow the Christ child from those most humble surroundings into victory over the challenges of this broken world and a spectacular place of eternal glory.
My dear friends, “set your minds” to approach this Christmas with a childlike heart. (Colossians 3:2) Then you will truly have the “Merry Christmas” that Christie and I wish for you and our community.