Christmas is the event of the greatest sacrifice –God became man. It is the day when God gave man the greatest gift- his only begotten Son. It is always worth remembering the first Christmas. We have two narratives of the first Christmas in the gospels- one in Matthew and the other in Luke. When we read these chapters, we will catch the spirit of Christmas. Now I would like to bring out certain lessons from these chapters and present to you how to celebrate Christmas meaningfully. (5 A’s)
- ADORE THE LORD
The first Christmas focused upon true worship of the king of kings. The birth of Christ Jesus made both heaven and earth rejoicing. The angelic hosts exclaimed,‘Glory to God’ (Luke 2.13). We should sing praises to God for his indescribable gift (II Cor. 9.15). The Magi were filled with great joy (Matt.2.10) and they adored and worshipped the baby Jesus by giving Him the gifts of gold, incense and myrrh (2:11). William Barclay writes that the Magi have seen in each gift something which specially matched some characteristic of Jesus and His work. Gold is the gift for a king. Jesus was born to be King. Frankincense is the gift for a priest. The priest is the man who builds a bridge between men and God. That is what Jesus did, He opened the way to God, He made; it possible for men to enter into the very presence of God. Myrrh is the gift of one who is to die, Jesus came to die for the salvation of the entire mankind (John 1:29). Let us also adore and worship the Lord Jesus by acknowledging who He is and what He has done for us. Let our souls magnify the Lord and our spirits rejoice in God our Savior (Luke 1:46, 47)! Someone has written, “ Jesus had no servants, yet they called Him Master. He had no degrees, yet they called Him teacher. He did not learn medicine, yet people called Him Healer. He had no army, yet the kings feared him. He had won military battles, yet He conquered the world.” Are we not privileged to worship this unique and incomparable Christ! So make this time of Christmas a time of praise and adoration.
- ABANDON YOUR SINFUL LIFE.
Jesus is not delighted in your new clothes,cakes, carols, cards and crackers. But he will be glad when you live a life which is pleasing to him. What gives us true joy during this season of Chrismas is salvation (Ps 51:12). The name Jesus means ‘Savior’ (Matt. 1:21;Luke 2:11). Jesus came to this world to deliver people from their sins (1 Tim 1:15). The message that Jesus brought was, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of God is near’ (Mark 1:15). Jesus will be pleased only when we repent of our sins and give him room in our hearts.
As there was no room for the baby Jesus in the inn (Luke 2:7), there is no roomfor him today in the lives of many people as they celebrate Christmas. Many a time we shut Jesus out of our Lives by indulging in sinful and evil things. As you have come to the end of this year, examine your hearts to find out whether Jesus is in the centre of your life. If you have crowded him out by giving importance to the other things in your hearts, invite Him back to take his right place. Decide to abandon all evils habits, wicked practices and bad friendship. Jesus is standing at the door of your heart and knocking. If you hear his voice now and open the door of your heart, He will come in and bless you richly (Rev. 3:20).
- ACT TO MAKE PEACE AND LIVE IN PEACE
We celebrate the birth of the Prince of peace during Christmas (Isa 9:6; Micah 5:5). The angels sang, ‘And on earth peace to men!’ (Luke 2:14). The message of Christmas is a message of reconciliation. We have hurt so many people with the sword of our tongue and with our deeds. We can and should take advantage of this season for reconciliation.
We can invite our relatives and friends with whom we are not in speaking terms,whatever the reason. We can send them a greeting card to break the silence.When the Son of God stooped down to become the Son of Man, why don’t we humble ourselves? (Phil. 2: 5-8). We should not stand on false prestige. Our days on earth are short. An unforgiving spirit will deprive us of God’s favor(Matt.6:14, 15). We should forgive all men and never hold any grudge against anyone (Col. 3:13; Eph 4:32).
The Bible says, ‘if it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably will all men’ (Rom 12:18; Heb 12:14). Jesus has also said that we should become peace-makers (Matt. 5:9). We must make every effort to make peace between people during this season. Billy Graham in his book, ‘the Secret of happiness’ says that Christians should be peace makers at home, in the community, in the church and at work. Wherever relationships are at stake, we need to work for peace and get engaged in the ministry of reconciliation.
- ATTEND TO THE NEEDS OF THE POOR.
The Christmas celebration which keeps the poor and needy out is meaningless before God. Jesus chose a poor family for his birth. His parents could not afford a lamp so they offered a pair of doves as sacrifice (Luke 2:24; Lev. 12:8). Jesus identified himself with the poor. The bible says that Jesus came to preach the Gospel to the poor (Luke 4:18). The bible also tells us that we should remember the poor (Gal 2:10).
When we ponder the realities of a tragic world, one in which fellow Human beings are engulfed in chaos, pain, fear and death, we will not allow the selfishness and greed which usually rule over us during the season. Mother Theresa once prayed,‘Make us worthy, Lord to serve those people throughout the world who live and died in poverty and hunger. Give them through our hands, this day, their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give them peace and joy.”
The Christmas story epitomizes the spirit of giving (John 3:16). Let us search for ways to share our wealth with the less fortunate of the world. Jesus told,‘…when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous’ (Luke 14: 12-14). The bible promises blessing to those who consider the poor (Read Psalm 41: 1-3; 112:9).
Mother Theresa once said: “When a Person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.’ Let us decide to be contributors to the well being of those around us rather than just being consumers!
- ANNOUNCE THE GOOD NEWS
The angel of the Lord came to announce the message of “good news” during Christmas(Luke 2:10). The message of the angel was a message of Salvation. He came to proclaim the glorious news that a Saviour had been born Bethlehem! (2:11). This message is also a message of hope! This message came first to the shepherds who were neglected by the society and considered as social outcasts. The angel brought message of great joy, confidence and blessing to various people. The angel told Zechariah ‘fear not, you prayer is heard’ (Luke 1:13). The angel told Mary ‘Fear not, you have found favor with God’ (Luke 1:30). The angel told the shepherds ‘Fear not, we bring you good tiding of great joy’ (Luke 2:10).The messages from God revealed God’s plan for their lives and for the salvation of mankind. Even today God gives us the message of hope and confidence
This good news of salvation and hope is for ALL people (Luke 2:10).
Understanding this importance of this message, the shepherds spread it far and wide (Luke 2:17). We are talking about preparing for the second coming of Jesus Christ. But thousand in our city are unaware of his first coming. Have you spoken to at least one non- Christian this year about Christ? Decide to share the love of God with those who have never heard about the first Christmas! Ask God to lay on your heart one person who needs to hear the good news of Jesus this month.And ask him for an opportunity to show the love of God to that person. If you don’t feel that you’re able to tell them how to know Christ, then invite them to church on any Sunday. Make the Christmas season a time of aggressive evangelism! Our mess age needs the message of glad tiding desperately!