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Christmas or Communion?
Here in America, Christmas seems to be a much bigger affair than I am accustomed to in South Africa. Many houses are beautifully decorated, almost every one sports at least some form of Christmas decoration, even if just a wreath on the door or a tree in the window. Millions of Dollars are spent on food, gifts, cards and other paraphernalia that relates to Christmas and even the gasoline stations join in by hiking the price of fuel. So it is not unexpected that I have been thinking long and hard about the holiday, it’s meaning and the reasons why people love to celebrate it so lavishly.
It is clear that it is not a Christian celebration since more unbelievers than true believers celebrate the day. So what is it about the season that people, even unbelievers, find so attractive? It seems to have little to do with Jesus and the message of the Gospel and much to do about money, greed and commercialism. Recently a newspaper headline suggested that we should rather call it “techmas”, referring to the emphasis on technology and technological toys and gifts. Even children seem to agree by pulling their noses up at any gift that does not require batteries.
I can not find a single reference in the whole Bible where the Disciples or the early church celebrated His birth. Come to think of it, there is not a single reference to Jesus ever celebrating His own birthday! There is also no instruction in the whole of the Bible to celebrate the birth of the Savior. Unlike His birth, His death is to be celebrated and to be remembered. Jesus instituted the memorial the night before He was crucified (Matthew 26:26). He instructs the disciples to celebrate it (Luke 22:19) and Paul instructs us to remember the Lord (1Corinthians 11). Yet the vast majority of Westerners will celebrate His birth while ignoring His death! Why?
One of the possible reasons lies in the fact that “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” is a lot more user-friendly and manageable than a bloody Savior on a cross. A baby Jesus in a crib, all cute and cuddly sells product much better than One at whose Name every knee shall bow, and the romance of an “illegitimate” child, born in a stable in an obscure village, and Who rose to greatness is far more appealing than the truth that our sin nailed Him to that tree. A helpless baby who makes no demands, other than for food is much more appealing than a risen, glorified Lord who demands our total love, obedience and devotion.
Thus many people prefer to “freeze” the moment and the Child for ever. That way, He is much less threatening and more manageable. We too like think of God in terms of gifts, giving and presents and not as One Who makes just and holy demands. Above all, men like to confine God to a shape and form in which they can manage and control Him. Is this not one of the ways in which we change the glory of the incorruptible God? (Romans 1:23).
Yes, the Almighty Word became flesh and limited Himself to the body of a baby that was helpless and totally dependant upon His parents for everything. But, He is no longer a helpless, cute baby or even a young man. He is the risen, glorious King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the One who will soon come to judge the world, destroy His enemies and establish His eternal Kingdom. Every knee shall bow before Him and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord (Philippians 2:10).
His birth was incidental to God’s wonderful plan of salvation. He had to be born in human form in order to relate to us and to be a faithful High Priest but, He did not come to be born: He came to die! It is not His birth that saves us, but His death and resurrection. Many people like to emphasize Jesus’ life as an example, rather than see Him as the One Who died and rose again. They willingly forget that the message of the Gospel is not His life and death, but rather, His death and life. Yes, we like to see Him as the Lamb of God, but forget that He is no longer dumb before those who slaughtered Him. He now has seven horns which represent his Divine power and authority (Revelation 5:6) and when He speaks, the heavens and earth quake. No longer is there no room for Him in the inn, but heaven is His throne and the earth His footstool (Acts 7:49). No longer is He wrapped in swaddling clothes, but now He is “clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance like the sun shining in its strength.” (Revelation 1:13-16).
Is it wrong for us to celebrate His birth? Yes, I think it is wrong if we do not give far more importance to remembering His death than His birth. Here’s the catch: How many of us look forward to the Lord’s Table and put as much time into preparing for Communion as we do for Christmas. Most Christians will miss the Lord’s Table for the slightest excuse, yet they will travel thousands of miles to be present at a Christmas celebration. And don’t tell me it’s not about Christmas but that it is time to be with family. So is the Lord’s Supper not a time to be with family? And the excuse that it is a holiday also does not work – every Sunday is a holiday.
You can celebrate Christmas as long as at least twelve times a year (preferably 52 times) you will look forward to, and put as much time into preparing your heart and mind for the Lord’s table as you do for Christmas and if you will spend as much money on giving to the Lord each week as you give to others at Christmas. Isn’t it strange that amid all the emphasis on gifts and giving around Christmas, that this is the month when giving to the church is the lowest of the year! Something has to be wrong with this picture.
For too long the church has allowed the world to shape it’s traditions and values. It should be the other way around. It is time for us to get back to the priorities and principles of the Bible and not of the world. Enjoy your celebrations but determine to give more importance to the Lord’s table than Christmas – that’s the way it should be.

written 12/25/2006

source: found HERE

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