Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Christmas spirit

All day long yesterday I had a hard time believing that we are already into December. We have officially entered the Christmas season. There is so much "hustle and bustle" with our schedules, shopping, planning, etc. If we aren't careful, we can turn the celebration of our Lord's birth into something that brings us dread and depression instead of joy.

There are some who love to debate about the actual birth of Jesus and try to make you believe that you are wrong for celebrating Christmas. I believe that it pleases our Lord greatly when we celebrate and remember that "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." The date isn't nearly as important as the "spirit" of our celebration. Listen to what Paul tell us in Philippians 2:

Philippians 2:5-11 Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:] (6) Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, (7) But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. (8) And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross! (9) Therefore [because He stooped so low] God has highly exalted Him and has freely bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, (10) That in (at) the name of Jesus every knee should (must) bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (11) And every tongue [frankly and openly] confess and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

How would you define "the Christmas spirit"? Would it be a friendly smile between strangers, the sound of familiar carols, a tree with twinkling lights in a sea of brightly wrapped packages, or just that good feeling you get this time of the year?

None of these elements captures the real meaning of the phrase. They represent feelings that may be a response to the commercialism that distorts the real spirit of Christmas.

J. I. Packer goes to the heart of this matter in his book Knowing God. He writes, "We talk glibly of the Christmas spirit, rarely meaning more by this than sentimental jollity . . . . It ought to mean the reproducing in human lives of the [temperament] of Him who for our sakes became poor, . . . the spirit of those who, like their Master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor—spending and being spent—to enrich their fellowmen, giving time, thought, care, and concern to do good to others . . . in whatever way there seems need."

In Philippians 2, Paul described the God of heaven and earth as laying aside His divine glory and becoming our servant by dying on the cross for our sins. Then he urged us to duplicate that same mind of humble service to others. That's the true Christmas spirit.

If we look beyond the manger to the cross of Calvary, we will know the reason Christmas brings such joy to you and me. —D. De Haan

The spirit of Christmas giving should be seen in all our daily living. Amen? Blessings!

Pastor Rusty


LAURIE said...

I am simplifying the things on my list this year as all the hustle and bustle seems to zap the joy right out of the Christmas spirit in so many. The heart of Christmas is simply an attitude of Worship and it is about His PRESENCE not the PRESENTS. (I have a future post about the PRESENCE of God)

May we all take time to worship the King this Christmas season! -blessings, Laurie