What are some of your annual Christmas traditions? Do you attend an office Christmas party? Do you decorate your apartment or house to enjoy the holiday vibe? Do you make Christmas cookies? Attend special Christmas events? Enjoy the Christmas playlist on your phone? Do you go caroling? Drive around at night to relish the lights and decorations people put up to celebrate Christmas? Do you have special foods that you look forward to eating during the Christmas season?
Christmas is filled with lots of festivities, celebrations, fun experiences and events, along with tasty food and delightful music. For me, Christmas includes lots of these events. In the last few years, I’ve added a personal tradition that has grounded me in the midst of the sometimes frenzied festivities that always accompany Christmas. My personal Christmas tradition is attending a local concert, presented by a volunteer symphony and choir where the music and singing is angelic, serene, soothing and centering on Jesus’ birth.
But alas, Christmas this year doesn’t seem to have the same traditions that have filled preceding Christmas seasons. COVID has hijacked lots of Christmas traditions and festivities including my Christmas concert.
It seems fitting that Christmas this year is different because this entire year has been different! Nothing this year has seemed “normal” or expected and I suspect your year, along with your Christmas is different than past years. And because this Christmas is different, maybe you’re struggling with the changes and absence of some of your normal traditions, which is understandable.
On the other hand, perhaps we could let the decreased Christmas activities and traditions help to refine and refocus our Christmas crosshairs. Maybe this Christmas could help us calibrate our focus on Jesus’ birth with greater concentration than preceding years. May we also consider that the birth of Jesus is because of the infinite love of our Heavenly Father as we read about in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
During Christmas, we will likely give and receive gifts. However, no gift to the human race was ever the expression of genuine love, as much as Jesus coming into human skin. So while we may not be able to celebrate this Christmas with our customary annual traditions, let’s also remember that the fundamentals of Christmas have not changed.
As a helpful reminder, the fundamentals of Christmas can revolve around these core essentials:
- God is love and from this premise, God gives us His beloved Son, Jesus.
- Jesus was virgin-born to Mary in Bethlehem.
- Angels celebrated the birth of Jesus, making a supernatural appearance to shepherds in a field at nighttime.
- Shepherds came to find the newborn baby lying in a manger and spread the news of Jesus’ birth upon their discovery.
- Wise men came from the East to worship Jesus, bringing Him gifts.
- Mary, Jesus’ mom, pondered in her heart all these unusual events.
May we remember, despite the limitations on our Christmas traditions this year, that Jesus is God’s gift into humanity. He was born in humble circumstances to express to humans for the rest of time that God loves us enough to send His beloved Son for our continued redemption. This year, let’s be sure to celebrate God’s genuine love to us, expressed in the birth of His Son, Jesus!
For more Christmas-themed reading, check out Jesus is God’s Selfie.