Over three years ago, I stepped underneath an outdoor tent—there to prevent the steady rain from reaching those within. Sadly, it was a funeral; I looked around, underneath the plastic canopy that protected that priceless parcel of earth, our loved one’s burial place. I surveyed those gathered, looking at each face in a group that hadn’t been all together since my wedding day. They were present—and this loved one was the cause for their efforts of coming. No obligation, or habit inspired their arrival; this loved one did.
Christmas can be similar. Our meals, singing, reading, crafts, cards, caroling, and more can all be for Christ’s honor, a devotion caused in our hearts by His having been on this earth for our salvation. Presently, in His bodily absence, we become compelled by Him, just like the followers who met Him first.
Within the introductory chapter to the gospel of John, we see Jesus drawing the devotion of His followers.
John the Baptist said, “among you stands one…the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie” (John 1:26-27).
Simon said, “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41).
Philip said, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45).
Nathanael said, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (John 1:49).
Jesus draws devotion for being the One we are unworthy of, the Messiah, prophesied of from generations past, Rabbi, and Son of God.
While it’s tempting to think that our often-abundant—and enjoyable—planning and traditions add meaning to this season, it is not the acts of our hands, or even the expressions of our hearts and faith, that bring the significance to our celebrations. All of this is for another. And meaning in what we celebrate is derived from another. It’s not our preparation for Christmas—but our preparation having been done in His honor—that is meaningful.
This is how you simplify Christmastime: whatever you do this year, do it in honor of all-worthy Him.
It sounds overly simplistic until I think about how I would have felt if no one who was invited to the funeral three years ago was under that tent—and how momentous it was that we all planned and decided to gather in our loved one’s memory like we did. And it sounds too generic until I see that it applies to everything I am about to do for Christmas—down to cleaning wrapping paper scraps from the floor and swiping excess cookie crumbs from the counter. I come to the celebration of Christmas because I know Him.
And I find my own inward voice in line with the testimony of Scripture, He is the only Savior possibly worthy, who redeems my life from meaninglessness, and forgives all of my offenses. And this is rich encouragement for my spirit—that I know many others will similarly find their hearts’ voices honoring Him, that they will be ringing doorbells to step across hosts’ thresholds, and inviting guests, friends, and family members to share a meal together in their homes, under the canopy of this same Savior who inspires their devotion too.
Have you decided to celebrate Christmas this year? I ask since it’s not an explicit command in Scripture that we have a celebration like this, or a season like this. But, if we have decided to celebrate Christmas—then let’s do it well by allowing who He is inspire us to be present at our Christmas celebrations simply, yet significantly, in His honor.