Recently, I shared a plea from a family asking for help. Christmas can be a visible reminder of who receives generously and who gets little or nothing! Christmas was never meant to be that way.
That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight inBethlehem, the city ofDavid! And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!” (Luke 2:8-12)
Jesus was born in a cattle stall surrounded by farm animals. God’s Heavenly Angels appeared to a group of poor shepherds outside of Bethlehem. What happened to the original message of Christmas?
“There weretimes when I got caught up with the madness of Christmas, the lights, presents, getting into debt, trying to buy everybody a gift. But I have gotten older and the true meaning of Christmas has changed. I don’t worry about not having a gift to buy. With so much uncertainly today, we should concentrate more on giving, and less on receiving.” — Cynthia
“I grew up in a rather large and famous church. So, I called their office and asked if there was a family that could use some help and fellowship. They had no idea what I was talking about. They didn’t know of one single family, student, or elderly person that fit the bill. Something is wrong with that picture. Have we forgotten how hard the holidays can be on folks?” — Rebecca
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors.” (13-14)
There is the message of Christmas. The angels are joined by a vast host of others – the armies of heaven – praising God. Isn’t that the message we should be looking for? Mike Slaughter in his book, “Christmas Is Not Your Birthday” writes: “We are called at Christmas and all year through to look for and serve Jesus. We can let the light of Christ shine in our lives through the love we show to others.”
“We do food baskets at our church and get toys for children and give them to the needy in our area. I am frequently reminding folks that ‘Jesus is the Reason for the Season.’” Margaret
“We sponsor a family each year and buy gifts for the children. We want to help.” Buz
The shepherds responded by saying to each other: “Come on, let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that happened, which the Lord told us about.” They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. (15-16)
How will you and your church respond to the birth of Jesus Christ?
One church met with community leaders several years ago and organized “Christmas Parents” which honors “special” parents as examples, then receives donations and presents from others throughout the county providing Christmas for over 500 children every year.
Another church solicits names of needy children from area elementary schools then matches, those names with families from their congregation who include those children as part of their Christmas shopping. This church provides Christmas to many needy children every year.
A family read our devotion several weeks ago about a family asking for help and is now in the process of providing Christmas for both the children and parents.
Mike Slaughter is right: Christmas is not your birthday. So, our challenge is to find creative ways to express our love for Jesus as we honor His Birthday.
What better way to put Christ in your Christmas this year than by helping someone in need? God will bless you for it. Have a Merry Christmas.
Mike Slaughter ends his book: “Christmas Is Not Your Birthday” with the following questions:
- How can you simplify your home to create more room for peace and togetherness, rather than for more stuff? What excess can you get rid of in your home (or your schedule!) to more accurately reflect where your priorities are?
- What would it mean for you to “seek God’s kingdom first?” What changes would that shift necessitate in your life?
- Take a moment right now to think of ways you can make first things first in the new year, by finishing the following sentences:
- I will spend more time with the people I love by…
- I will demonstrate my faith in practical service by…
- I will cultivate my relationship with God by…