Christmas Concerns

I am worried about Christmas this year. No, I’m not worried about keeping the story straight. I see many blogs and articles addressing myths and common misunderstandings about the birth of Christ. I believe we continue to make great progress there. No, I’m not worried about commercialism. That is everyday life here in the United States.

I worry that we have false expectations of what Christmas will bring. The message of Christmas is “peace and goodwill”. If that is so, why is Christmas dreaded by so many? Yes, dreaded. School classrooms, the workplace, and family gatherings often become veritable battlegrounds over the mere mention of personal beliefs about the religious/theological aspects of Christmas. As a result, many breathe a sigh of relief when January comes around and all returns to normal.

No longer is there a need to worry about saying, “Merry Christmas”, nobody will care what cup Starbucks chooses to use (seriously, that was the most ridiculous rant I have heard in a LONG time), antagonistic relatives can be ignored for another 10 or 11 months, we can forget about Santa, and there will be minimal thought given to the virgin birth.

If we truly understand the first Christmas, the advent of Jesus, we shouldn’t be surprised or disappointed in what Christmas brings. While “peace and goodwill” toward mankind was proclaimed, promised, and provided in Christ, His advent was anything but!

What the Bible records about the coming of Christ should warn and prepare us for what is normative when celebrating Jesus at Christmas.

The first Christmas was extremely dramatic. The Christmas story presents international drama (the coming of the Magi), political unrest and upheaval (Herod and the ripple effect upon Jerusalem), an unwed pregnancy in a very religiously moral society, and the invasion of a town by a group of shepherds (not the most welcome and trustworthy group in any town) proclaiming a wild tale of cosmic phenomena.

The first Christmas was terribly invasive. Joseph and Mary’s lives and subsequent marriage was turned on its head (being the “parents” of the Messiah…can’t imagine THAT!), powerful religious and political figures were sent on a long and costly journey, and an entire generation was disrupted by the slaughter of baby boys by a jealous sociopath named Herod.

The first Christmas was powerfully emotional. Shepherds, the lowly outcasts of society, were personally contacted by the heavenly realm and trusted with an eternal message, two young parents were told their first-born was the Savior of the world and the fulfiller of all that had been promised by God to their people, and fear gripped an entire city because of the threat to the authority of a powerful ruler.

The first Christmas was uniquely personal. No person big or small, famous or obscure, who was in even a small way connected to the birth of Christ, was exempt. Each had a decision to make, from the religious leaders of Israel, to King Herod, to the Magi, to the shepherds, all the way to Mary and Joseph.

No, the first Christmas was not silent though it was holy. Those who truly worship the Savior should expect nothing less as we celebrate and proclaim the Savior-King who came as a baby.

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