Christmas has started! For 1,500 years, the church has celebrated Advent beginning four Sundays before Christmas Day and ending at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve (technically, that would be Christmas Day, of course). After that, Christians down through the centuries have celebrated Christmas for twelve days. We now join the cloud of witnesses of those who have gone before as we celebrate the Gift of Jesus. Christmas doesn’t END today, it BEGINS!
“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:6-7).
This is the message of Christmas: our Savior has been born. Still today, He is born, “incarnated” in the hearts of those who accept Him as their Lord and Savior. The message of Christmas is one of hope, peace, joy and love. It is a hope that only God can give. It is a peace that only comes from the reconciliation between God and humanity. It is a joy springing from the Author of all good things. And it is a love in God the Father giving the world His Son. The Apostle John summarized Christmas this way:
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth…No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known” (John 1:14,18).
A song from a few Christmas Festivals (at Shelter Cove) said it this way: “Tonight, Heaven touches earth: promised Holy birth, a manger holds this wondrous sight. Tonight, we hear the angels sing. We see the newborn King for God has sent His holy Light, tonight.” (“Tonight, Heaven Touches Earth” Words and Music by Randy Vader and Jay Rouse © 2008 PraiseGathering Music.)
Take time today to reflect on this question: “what changed since Christmas?” Not only is that a great book by the late D. James Kennedy, it is an appropriate question to reflect on during this season. What has changed in your life as a result of what we celebrate? If Jesus has been born in your heart, do you live this way? Is Christmas just a secular holiday for you or does it actually remind you of Easter? Oh yes…Easter. Without Easter, Christmas has no meaning. “There have been many babies to become kings, but only one King became a baby.” (“One King” Words and Music by David Phelps © 2007 Wordspring Music)
Suggestions for reading and meditation through the next twelve days:
- Psalm 8
- Psalm 96
- Psalm 98
- Psalm 147: 12-20
- Psalm 148
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-13
- Isaiah 60:1-6
- Matthew 1:18-24
- Matthew 2:13-23
- Luke 2:1-20
- Luke 2:22-40
- Ephesians 3:1-12
- Song: “One King” (by David Phelps)
- Song: “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” (I’m partial to the “Casting Crowns” version)
- Song: “He Made A Way in a Manger (by Vicky Beeching)
- Song: “In the First Light” (I’m partial to version by “Point of Grace”)