What is Christmas? To you, to me, to anyone. In China, a country where there are very few Christians (especially when compared to America), Christmas is still very much in session. However, it’s not for the reason that Jesus came to earth in the humblest of ways: in the form of a baby, born in a smelly, poop-filled stable. All the Christmas festivities celebrations we have were born out of the celebration of that fact. Now, if we go back in history there are some things that are simply for the joy of the winter season (e.g. hot cocoa, fireplaces, white snow, etc.) – and the Christmas tree a pagan tradition turned to a Christmas one. But things like Santa Claus/St. Nicholas, Christmas music, festive lights, gift exchanging – those all came out of the fact that God gifted Jesus to come on earth to be a light to us.
In China, Christmas is a time to make everything look awesome with light decorations – aesthetic only. They skim over the part about Jesus, but hey – even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or other religious winter holiday, it’s still fun to get presents and listen to cheery music. Right? Even if Christmas wasn’t a thing but the traditions were, I would definitely still get excited over getting presents, telling friends how much they mean to me, getting together with family, all the retail sales… generally speaking, it’s a fun time of year. At least, people work hard at making it so.
Thing is, Christmas used to have more meaning than lights, sales, and being a fun time of year. Sometimes in the cheeriness of it all, we forget the meaning and the joy – a god of the universe came to be human, sacrificed – for everyone! That’s something I get excited about when I think about it. Because of that, we can have peace – that we don’t have to be ‘good enough’ so that we can prove something to the rest of the world, but instead out of the saving of us we can find joy in doing good to others because of what God has done for us. One of my favorite Christmas songs is Joy to the World (which also happens to be playing in the airport right now):
Joy to the world, the Lord is come
Let Earth receive her king!
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing!
Joy to the world! the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains,
Repeat the sounding joy!
He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove:
The glories of his righteousness
And wonders of His love!
So, my challenge to you is to find a meaning for Christmas, beyond the looks of it. Maybe it’s family, memories, or Jesus. But let it be more to you than how good it looks and sounds. Find a reason to be joyful this Christmas! Maybe it’s family, what God has done for you, happy memories of tradition.Whatever it is, don’t settle for the lights. Search and find a reason for this season.