Family. For others, Christmas is all about family and loved ones and traditions. Their favorite songs are "I'll be home for Christmas" and "There's no place like home for the holidays", and the holidays wouldn't be the same without family reunions and Grandma's pie. This is the stuff of Hallmark Movies.
Fun. For some, Christmas is a chance to have more fun than any other time of year. Parties, shows, caroling, get-togethers. It is a social butterfly's dream come true!
Fanfare. Some people really know how to do Christmas big, whether it is cooking, decorating, gift giving, or throwing a party. Whatever they do for Christmas has a hallmark of high celebration.
All of these are wonderful ways to enjoy the holidays. But they don't get to the heart of what
Christmas is really about.
Fulfillment. What Christmas really celebrates is the fulfillment of centuries-old prophesies of the coming of a special person the people of Israel knew as the Messiah. For hundreds of years, various Jewish prophets had dropped clues here and there about the Promised One who would come to save God's people from oppression - especially from the oppression of sin. When a baby's cry broke the silence on that first Christmas, it was an announcement to the world that God had kept His greatest promise of all. The Messiah had come, and without His birth, even if all you celebrate is the "secular" part of Christmas, there would be no Christmas to celebrate at all.
The question for each of us, then, is which one of these will rule our season? Which one do you want to rule your children's hearts? With the limited time and energy available in the next 24 days, which will win the contest for your focus?
My choice is to focus on the fulfillment that Jesus is and what that means for me, but does that mean that the other things - the fantasy and the fun, family and fanfare - have no place in my celebration? Do we need to divide our time and energy among these, making fulfillment one of many equal ways to celebrate Christmas, or can we make fulfillment a part of each of these others, bringing Christ into every part of our holiday season? That is what I want to explore for the rest of this week, and I hope you will come along for the conversation and share your ideas, too!
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