I looked back at several of my old Christmas messages and it seems that I start out the same way every year. Many sermons I’ve listened to and books I’ve read got me going in this direction and I started walking down the same path this year as I started to prepare for this most beloved of all Christian Seasons. It always starts off with something like this, “this year we’re going to focus our attention on the real meaning of Christmas.” OK, that’s a great sentiment, but I’ve done that just about every year in one way or another. It’s surely got to feel like a “been there, done that” experience for those sitting in the congregation.

I like what J. L. Wilson wrote about this. He says, “it might be impossible to get to the real meaning of Christmas, because we always have Christmas during the Christmas season. Don’t get me wrong; Christmas is a wonderful time of year. The main complaint I have about Christmas is that I’m always too busy with the Christmas season to enjoy Christmas. Whether it is activity at the church or family responsibilities, something usually keeps me busy. I look for Christ in Christmas, but the tree, wrappings and lights block my view.” He goes on to talk about how he decided to have in August instead of waiting for the regular season. Well, that’s a bit unrealistic for most of us, so we have to follow the crowds, the school schedules, the work routines, and all do the best we can not to lose the true meaning of Christmas in the mad rush of the season.

In his excellent little collection of his favorite illustrations, Hershel Hobbs says, “Christmas is more than tinsel and toys, trees and toddies, gifts and greetings. It is not merely a word of goodwill lightly spoken and soon forgotten in the raucous cries of conflict. Christmas is a message of peace on earth among men who are pleasing to God. It is Immanuel, God with us. It is God bending low to lift men up out of the sin and mire of a world which has forgotten God and His will for lost men. It is God in a cradle, the Eternal in a tender baby’s flesh and form. But Christmas does not stop in Bethlehem. It reaches beyond to Calvary, to the empty tomb, and to the throne where the Savior sits, waiting for His enemies to become his footstool. It is the good news of salvation to all men who will receive it. As the shepherds came to the manger, saw the Christ child, and went forth to tell the glad tidings; as the Wise Men came from afar to worship and give gifts to him, so should the faithful today bow before Him in worship, praise, and consecration; and then go forth to declare the gospel to a lost world. That is what Christmas is all about!”