That’s not a trick question. However, it is a multi-faceted one. Let’s take a look at just a few aspects of that question and their respective responses.
The first part of that question is “Why is Christmas important to those of us who are Christians?” For me, it’s the best time of the year. From a personal standpoint, it marks the celebration of the entry of God in the form of man into human history. Think about that. The creator taking on the form of the created. If ever there was a reason for celebration, that is it.
And as Christians, this season affords us unique opportunities to share the story of the Gospel. The music of the season is everywhere. Mixed in there with the more secular standards about jolly old St. Nick and reindeer and winter wonderlands there is the story of the baby born in Bethlehem, come to save us. There are reminders of what this one day in December commemorates everywhere. It’s the time of year when people are a little more open to a message of comfort and joy, peace on earth and goodwill towards mankind. If we keep our eyes, and hearts, open, opportunities to steer people closer to the real meaning of Christmas will confront us all season long.
From a personal perspective, I love Christmas for all of the reasons above and because it’s a time filled with warm memories, the gathering of family and friends and an opportunity to demonstrate my love for those closest to me. Christmas is a season, and a day, filled with tradition and the chance to see something new in the story of angels, shepherds, wise men and a baby.
Perhaps the toughest “why” about Christmas is “Why do we need Christmas in the first place?” On the surface that one is actually pretty easy to answer. Mankind has fallen. Sin separates us from God. God loves us and wants fellowship with us, so He devised a plan to restore us. That plan called for Jesus, God in the flesh, to come and live among us, as one of us and ultimately die in our stead to pay our debt. And then He rose from the dead to ensure an eternity of fellowship, so that where He is we may be also.
It’s when you scratch below that surface answer that this particular “why” gets more difficult to answer and leads to even more questions. Why is it necessary for blood to be shed to cover sin? Couldn’t God have devised a less messy mechanism to restore us? If God knew that we’d fall in the first place, why go ahead with the whole creation thing, at least in the way it turned out? Good questions all. Unanswerable, given the present limits of our human understanding, but good nonetheless. The best answer I can come up with is that God loves us enough to put up with the mess and bother of making a way for us to re-enter fellowship with Him, and though I realize that may seem a little trite and pat, it’s the best I can muster at the moment other than we’ll have to wait until our faith becomes sight and we see Him face-to-face. And by then, it may not really matter all that much to us.
And finally, why devote nearly an entire month, one of the busiest times of year, to a series of entries on Christmas? Have you met me? What better topic to explore? My hope is two-fold with this series. First, that you’ll find some encouragement and joy in these words and maybe learn a little something new, or at least be inspired to think about some aspect of Christmas in a slightly different way. Second, I hope to learn something more as I research and write these pieces. Consider them a gift for the season which should be more about the giving than the receiving.