Front page article Christmas 2020
On TV recently was a show where a family, who live in a chateau in France, celebrated Christmas in the most elaborate and beautiful way. Homemade decorations, sumptuous food, loving extended family, huge sacks full of presents and lots of laughter and candlelight. It looked idyllic.
And yet, I wondered if, when they were washing up the dishes in the cold light of day with a food hangover the next morning, whether they thought, “What was the point? Why did we do it?”
Was it just to celebrate family and snow, and have an excuse to give the kids gifts? Was it to celebrate an imaginary man in a red suit? Why make such a fuss over one day in the year? Why the elaborate preparations and decorations?
It felt to me like the castle in Disneyland, impressive and attractive on the outside but when you get close it is so disappointing because it is completely hollow and empty!
You see that French Christmas had not one manger scene, not one carol or reference to Jesus. And if Christmas is not a celebration of God’s great love in coming down to earth to live as a gentle carpenter, who shared a life-changing message, performed science-defying miracles and died a debt-paying death for each one of us, then what pray tell is the point?!
Without Jesus the whole season is meaningless over-expenditure and over-indulgence. What is the party all about if you exclude the guest of honour?!
Then Christmas is like the dogs in the photo on this page, a fun but purposeless spectacle. It can make us laugh, but with no real joy. It can fill our bellies but not the ache in our hearts. It can distract us from our problems for a few hours but solves nothing. It is pretty but temporary.
In contrast, the Bible story of Christmas – the birth of Jesus Christ – offers Immanuel, the very presence of the all-powerful Creator Himself in our lives. Joy to the world because Our Saviour reigns, defeating sin, death, sickness, and darkness. And peace on Earth because the door is opened for us to be reconciled to all that is good and true. It gives us hope that despite our on-going problems after the holiday season, there will come a season where every tear will be wiped away and all sorrow and sighing will cease.
Rather than Santa bearing toys, Christians believe in Jesus offering forgiveness for our sin, wholeness in our living, rest in our daily life and eternity with God. Their faith infuses every symbol with meaning: the Christmas tree speaks of the cross of wood, the candy canes of the blood and white purity of Jesus, the holly of the crown of thorns, the star of the Bethlehem miracle, the angel of heavenly choir, and the presents of the gift of God Himself. Each carol reminds us of the gospel, literally the good news, that God loves us, came to earth for us, died for us and offers us paradise for eternity.
Why would you want the shell, the empty façade, the hollow mask of Christmas, without the sweet and satisfying truth inside?