Is your Christmas shopping done yet? Yes? Congratulations, you win Christmas this year! No? Good luck. Haven’t you heard about all the shipping delays, inventory shortages, and lack of retail workers?
The pressure to shop early and buy gifts for Christmas seems to be even more at the forefront of advertising around this holiday season than I can remember in my adult life. The Black Friday deals started weeks ahead of the date on the calendar traditionally associated with that name. (Do you remember when lots of people used to gather outside of the stores in long lines to get the best deals?) Our household even received the Christmas toy catalog from Amazon before Halloween.
Somewhere in the middle of all these marketing and advertising pushes, as Christians, we also have the dates of the Advent season on our radars. We leave behind the national holiday celebration of Thanksgiving, followed by several specifically dedicated days of shopping, and enter a season of anticipation. We are not anticipating the next deal on a gift, the next Hallmark movie to drop, or even just counting down twenty-five days on a themed Advent calendar. We are anticipating the birth of a small baby who changed the world with His arrival. We are counting down to the moment when the word became flesh and dwelt among us.
For the world, who perhaps doesn’t know Jesus as their Savior, Christmas Day is the culmination and the finale of their season of anticipation. The cookies are baked, decorated, and eaten. The gifts are all given and opened. It is time to simply move on to watching the ball drop on New Years’ Eve.
A New Season
But for the Church, for the people of God who know Jesus as their Savior, Christmas Day is not a culmination or finale of all that we have been anticipating in Advent. Christmas Day is, instead, a kick-off. It launches us into the life and ministry of a child who would change the world. Christmas Day introduces us to a baby who would one day exchange a lowly wooden bed for an even lowlier wooden cross. Christmas signals not the end of a season, but rather the dawn of something new.
This season, I want to encourage you to look toward Christmas through the lens of Scripture and not as a deadline for all that you “need” to accomplish between now and then. Instead of focusing and dwelling on to-do lists and whether your online shopping purchases will arrive in time, dwell instead on the words of the angels announcing glad news of great joy to the shepherds. Rush with the shepherds to see the baby (Luke 2:16), but also continue and spread the news of what you have seen (Luke 2:17). Treasure up the details of that day with Mary (Luke 2:19), but also continue to search out Jesus’ teachings (Luke 2:48).
Read the Foreword
For those who know Jesus as their Savior, Luke 2 is much like reading the foreword of a book. Luke 2 serves as an important piece that helps us understand the author and the book a little better, but it is by no means the end of the story. If you only read the foreword of a book, you would miss the best parts. But if you skipped the foreword, you would lose important details that you need to understand the whole story. The opportunity to understand the details is where we find ourselves in Advent. We have a season to dwell on the details of the day and to look forward to the day yet to come when Jesus returns.
This Christmas, whatever you buy, whatever you do or do not get done, whatever arrives on time (or doesn’t) may you take time to help others see Christmas not as the end of a season, but rather as the dawn of something new.
Download the December Everyday Faith Calendar as we read through the familiar words of Luke 2 together.