by Harold Raymond
DUNDEE, MI – “Christmas is the greatest holiday of the year! Merry Christmas! Yes!!! Elves, flying reindeer, chimney arrivals, Santa Claus, and all that candy and presents! Wow, I can hardly wait!”
“Yes??? Wait a minute. Isn’t there way more to Christmas than all those things?”
“Oh, yeah. Well, sure! We get together with our families and have turkey dinners with all the trimmings, and sometimes we even get some special gifts after we eat! Christmas is incredible! I’m so excited! How many more days till Santa comes?”
“Oh, wait, yeah. Now I remember, ah, Jesus was born on Christmas, too . . . right?”
Be honest now, Pastors. Have you ever struggled convincing people that Jesus really is the reason for the season? Are people in your church more excited about Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer or the glory and wonder of God Almighty becoming a man in the person of Jesus Christ?
What really gives you the most joy at Christmas?
What really gives your church the most joy?
Is it the secular fairy tales or the Living Christ?
I first faced this Christmas question when I was just eight years old. One of my friends at school told me there was no real Santa Claus. Talk about taking the joy out of my Christmas! After thinking about my friend’s denials, I went home and asked my mom if Santa Claus was real. She said, “Of course!” But I trapped her when I answered, “Well how does Santa get the presents under our Christmas tree? We don’t even have a fireplace for him to come down!”
The joy in my mom’s eyes disappeared and I knew I had been lied to. My own mom and dad had lied to me!
You might think Christmas was ruined forever for me at this point, but the Lord worked a miracle for me. The next day in school one of my other friends heard I had learned the truth about Christmas, but he told me there was something way better than Santa. He actually witnessed to me. He told me about Jesus and about how great He was. I was so shocked at the joy I heard in my eight-year-old friend that it gave me hope.
Telling people that Santa was real, lived at the North Pole, and delivered presents to everyone all around the world was a lie. But Jesus was real, the great God and Savior! My friend actually shared Titus 2:13 with me. Talk about a miracle!
Talk about joy! Knowing Jesus personally is way better than seeing a little kid yelling with excitement because he got the gift he wanted from “Santa!” Experiencing the true joy of Christmas is for eternity and for every day of the year!
How should we in the church respond to this yearly battle? I like this verse: “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation!” (Habakkuk 3:18).
And let’s make sure the people in our churches don’t miss this other part of God’s Christmas joy. Christ’s first coming at the “first Christmas” has been preparing us for over 2,000 years for Jesus’ Second Coming!
Talk about JOY as we celebrate Christ’s birthday!
Please bless us Lord Jesus, and we pray every Christmas season and all year long,
“Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Revelation 22:20-21)!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Harold Raymond serves as Pastor of Dundee Baptist Church in Southeastern Baptist Association.