Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

by Tim Howard

Some folks like to use the phrase Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas. This suggests that many people love to celebrate the season, yet do so for a variety of reasons. I personally like the phrase Merry Christmas because it keeps the name of Christ prominent and helps me remember that He is the central reason for all our festivities. After all, it is His birthday we are celebrating.

How did you do with regards to your Christmas shopping? Did you purchase something for your children? Did you frantically look for that perfect gift for that perfect someone in your life and finally find it? What about your friends and co-workers? Did you run from store to store or check out the online prices to find a great gift for a great price? In all your activities, have you come to Christmas day ready to Celebrate or ready to Collapse?

This year I personally decided to make a change and joined the ‘Advent Conspiracy.’ I conspired with others to find a way to celebrate the Advent of Christ without yielding to the spirit of consumerism that is very much alive in our culture. Allow me to quickly add that I’m not implying we should spend nothing! It’s not about being stingy, miserly or acting like a scrooge. Share nothing, have nothing or give nothing. NO! It’s all about giving gifts BUT giving gifts that mean something and make a real difference. Spend less and give more! Sounds impossible unless you realize that the greatest gifts we can give people cost nothing at all in a monetary sense.

Three of the greatest gifts came to us through the birth of Jesus Christ and you can give these three gifts to others. He came to reveal the Father’s love. He came to give you joy and He came to bring hope by extending forgiveness and freedom from your past.

A Doctor by the name of Luke makes mention of these three gifts by recording the announcement of Christ’s birth in the Bible. He says in Luke 2:10 -11, “the angel of the Lord said to them, ‘…behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’” His presence among us brings hope and joy and is good news to the ears of those who will believe.’” Did you notice that Jesus came for everyone and not just a few? The very fact that God decided to live among us reveals His great love toward us. That’s not only good news, that’s great news!

Unfortunately, many who were caught up into the spirit of consumerism this season enter Christmas day ready to collapse rather than celebrate. Christmas day can too often becomes a burden to endure rather than a blessing to be experienced.

I invite you to make three decisions today. 1. Decide to celebrate God’s presence rather than focusing on the presents you receive. 2. Decide to love each other by serving those with whom you gather. 3. Forgive those who have hurt you and they will experience great joy - So will you! Many gifts can be given to people on this day we call Christmas but Love, Joy and Forgiveness are among the best.

If you make these three decisions and act upon them, you will honor God by exalting His son Jesus Christ and that’s extremely important since it’s His Birthday. He is the reason we say: Merry Christmas!

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