By all means, put up the tree, wrap the presents, and watch Home Alone. Take as many days off of work as you can and spend lots of time with your family. And, if you haven’t heard it, check out Episode 8 of Truth.Love.Parent. about making your family time work better. In short, continue celebrating Christmas the way you have, just make this one change.
Don’t stop with the manger.
I think – to the world – the way we celebrate Christmas sometimes comes across like a poorly executed magic trick. You may not have looked at it this way, but I’ve spent most of my life studying illusion – and when it comes to magic tricks, making something appear or disappear is only a fraction of the whole. Amateur illusionists will poof something into existence and rely on the gimmick or the technique to amaze the audience. And often the reaction is good enough to prompt the immature magician to copy his own performance next time.
But truly amazing illusions have layers and facets, stories and patter. The gimmick or the technique is merely a small part of the intended performance.
Let’s apply this metaphor to Christmas. And no, I’m not saying the virgin birth was a gimmick. It’s true, Christ came to this earth in a stunning display of divine power and wisdom when He was born to a virgin in fulfillment of ancient prophecies . . . but that was only the opening act of God’s heavenly story.
Jesus Christ didn’t come to this earth simply to be born to virgin in a stable. He came to live a perfect life and purchase the redemption of the human race! The virgin birth merely substantiated His coming and set the stage for all that was to follow, but – unfortunately – we don’t celebrate that during Christmas. We leave the rest of the story untold until Easter. But by the time the less-celebrated Easter comes around, most of the world has moved past the nativity and can’t really see the connection anymore.
Here’s what we all need this Christmas: Add the rest of the story.
Open with the birth, but take time to point to the separated life He lived. Had he not devoted Himself to perfectly obeying the Father, He never could have borne our sin on the cross. And had He stayed dead, He never could have redeemed us from Satan’s grasp. But that’s exactly what He did!
There’s a purpose in the nativity. It was the opening act of the Lamb’s preparation for slaughter. Yet, when our celebration stops with the manger, we find ourselves just worshipping a baby – not the Savior of the world, not the great I AM in human form. I believe this is one of the reasons the Roman Catholic church has put too much emphasis on Mary and given her a status she should never have had (nor would she have wanted). When we focus only on the virgin birth, it becomes easy to admire and revere and follow the adults in the story because it’s hard to relate to a baby. But they’re only mere shadows to the adult that the baby would later become. But when we focus on the divine power and wisdom in the nativity and look forward to the cross in the stable, then the mortal characters fall away; then we’re left with nothing more than the glorious miracle of Emmanuel!
If you’d like to focus your family celebration on more than the manger this year, I’d encourage you to do these four things.
- Get a family oriented advent devotional and go through it in the days leading up to Christmas. Paul David Tripp has one I thoroughly enjoy, and he shares it for free on his site.
- Then on Christmas day, read the Christmas story. Most people enjoy the one in Luke 2:1-20. Of course, starting with the beginning of Luke and reading through Luke 2:52 will give the fullest account of the time before His birth and through His childhood.
- Then between the 2nd and 12th days of Christmas (December 26th-January 6th), you can dip into the gospels to see His life, death, and resurrection. You could read just two chapters a day for those eleven days and finish the entire book of John!
- Join our social media campaign called “#MoreThanTheManger.” Hashtag it, share it, post it, and promote it. From December 26th through January 6th Evermind Ministries will post at least once a day on our various social media accounts about #morethanthemanger. Follow Evermind Ministries on Twitter and Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram and spread the news to everyone you can. We’ve even created an image to go along with this campaign.
I hope your family’s Christmas will be a time of drawing close to the Lord and closer to each other. We should all come out of the Christmas season thinking and talking and acting more than Jesus.
Otherwise, what’s the point?
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