Looking back over my 40 years of preaching, every year when I would sit down to prepare the sermons for the Christmas season I’d think “this year we’re going to focus on the TRUE meaning of Christmas.” I wonder if people got tired of hearing me say that year after year. I don’t think I’ll say it this year. But the sentiment isn’t lost because I do have trouble getting my mind around the depth of the true meaning of Christmas and I’m not sure I’ll ever fully comprehend it: God becoming a man, born in a manger, with the sole purpose of dying at the hands of those He created to pay the penalty for their sins. This is just a little too profound for me to grasp. That’s why it’s great to visit this truth often.

It’s very hard to focus on the real meaning of Christmas at Christmas time. Christmas comes at the wrong time of the year. I mean all the activities of Christmas take my focus off of the true meaning of Christmas.  All of my family Christmas pictures growing up were about the toys and trees.  I got my first bicycle at Christmas. I loved that bicycle (I had training wheels on it for 3 years!) We buy presents for everyone in our family. We send cards and or letters to those far away.  I don’t get the “tree” idea. Where does the pine tree show up in the Christmas story?  I like the idea of lights because Jesus is the “light of the world” and that’s a great symbol. But we take what’s inside, lights, and put them on the outside. Then take what’s outside, trees, and put them on the inside. What’s that all about? We all have parties to go to (maybe not this Covid-19 year) and the list could go on and on. We give and receive presents which are important because it’s the real meaning of Christmas, giving to others because God so loved that He gave His only son for us.

During my pastoral years, I’ve always been too busy with the Christmas season to really enjoy Christmas. I’d preach three sermons the Sunday before Christmas and then a Christmas Eve service.  Since retiring from the pastoral role, I’ve found I’m still very busy at this time of year. I have to get lights up. I need to shop for everyone in my family. I need to decorate the house in some way. Since my wife is still working I’m doing a lot of the cooking! I didn’t realize how much planning and effort that takes. All those years I thought I was the only one that too busy over the Holiday season, but now I find it must have been true for everyone! But, vowing once again, I’m going to do my best not to let all the activity and stress and strains of the season block my view of the true meaning of Christmas: God have us Himself so that we might have eternal life! Linus is absolutely right about the true message of Christmas. Luke 2:7 tells us, “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger…”