Every time I hear someone say, “Christmas is for the kids” I want to stamp my foot, fix my hands to my hips and, in my most maturest, grown-up voice respond, “It is NOT!”
I love Christmas.
I love presents, tinsel and carols. I love the feasting, the family time and the drinks with friends. I love decorating the tree, lovingly wrapping each gift and driving around in the nights before Christmas to look at the houses lit up like the proverbial. The season is certainly made richer for the squeals of delight and wide-eyed wonderment of children. That was evident at the Christmas pageant through Launceston’s streets recently. Kids hoisted on their dads’ shoulders and jumping at the roadside brought a generous measure of joy to the atmosphere.
But let’s not relinquish Christmas to the kiddies.
Children bring the merriment, but it was one single child more than 2000 years ago that brought the reason for the celebration – for adults and children alike. He came via an unplanned pregnancy, out of wedlock, to two fresh-faced kids with a faith bigger than their fears.
Jesus’ birth was a momentous event that split time in two. His short life introduced revolutionary ideas of humility, unconditional love, grace and mercy. His death allowed us direct communication with his father in heaven and freedom from the old law – the rules and stricture of the Old Testament.
While I’m a huge fan of the tizz and festivity of Christmas, I’m a much bigger fan of Jesus and the importance of respecting his birthday.
In the Biblical Christmas story, we read of a “star in the east” that appeared at the time of Jesus’ birth and led the Magi (the wise men) to his birthplace.
“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, (the Magi) saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.” (Matthew 2:10-11)
Did I mention that I love carols? That classic old carol ‘We Three Kings’ has a beautiful description of this light in the heavens that led the Magi to Jesus.
“O-ooo… Star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.”
We each have the opportunity to be a Christmas Star, a small light directing others to the “light of the world”. An older Jesus, out of nappies and no longer breastfeeding, would later say, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
If Christmas is for the kids, then at the very least we are to be their Christmas Stars, directing them and others to the true import of Christmas and the source of light in this dark life.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.” (Isaiah 60:1-2)
The light symbol is repeated over and over throughout the scriptures and is a powerful metaphor for the transformation God brings to our lives. The light of His truth and love cannot be overcome by any darkness (John 1:5).
This Christmas, acknowledge the message that is for everyone, young and old, and like that bright star above Bethlehem, be led to the light.
Be the light.
First published in The Examiner Newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday December 16, 2013.