Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Catch Phrases and the True Meaning of Christmas

"Jesus is the reason for the season" is an oft-repeated phrase during the Christmas season. What does this mean? Sometimes the best way to explain what something means is to start by saying what it does NOT mean. To "Keep Christ in Christmas" does not mean that Christians should expect non-Christians to celebrate Christmas in a way that puts Jesus at the center. Why should they? Similarly, Jesus as the meaning of Christmas does NOT mean that I must show the world how much I love Jesus by demonstrating my holy life and my Christian themed family traditions, thereby giving people an irresistible reason to be a "fully devoted follower of Jesus". In other words, the Christmas season should NOT degenerate into a "me for Jesus" campaign. Jesus does not need my vote on facebook, and he does not save people because I love Him. The main point of Advent, Christmas, and Christianity is NOT that "I am for Jesus,", but that "Jesus is for me." In His perfect life of obedience, His death on the cross, and His resurrection, He paid for the sins of the whole world and gives eternal life to those who receive Him. At Advent we remember that He came to earth and was born of the virgin Mary; we remember that He will come again to take those who believe in Him home with Him. What better way to receive him this Advent and Christmas than by being in His House, hearing His Word and receiving His Sacrament. For to receive Him is to receive the forgiveness of sins, which is why He came that first Christmas. Then we can say with Simeon, who saw the baby Jesus, Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people. a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen Nunc Dimittis (Song of Simeon), from Luke 2:29-32 (Lutheran Service Book)