Christmas, what a wonderful time of the year. For half of the world, Christmas day is covered in snow, gingerbread houses, fireplaces, and eggnog. For the other half, Christmas day is all about the surf, the pool, ice cold drinks, cold meats and trying to find the right balance of tan versus sunburn. Christmas means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. The one common thread at Christmas for the majority of the world is presents, Santa, and reindeer. For Christians however, Christmas has a spiritual element to it.
It is pretty well known that Jesus’ birthday wasn’t on the 25th of December. However, Christians all around the world take the day to remember the birth of our Lord and Saviour. Christians think back to the day Jesus was born in a dirty old manger among animals, dirt and muck, and celebrate the beginning of what was to be the end of our problem with sin (John 3:16). For me, however, Christmas has not always been like this for me.
I grew up in a non-Christian family. So Christmas for me was never about Jesus. Christmas was more about prawns and fresh seafood. It was about beer and cold drinks. It was about family and friends gathering around one another and having a good old time. Mostly, though, Christmas was about what presents I would be getting that year. Christmas was about me.
I have a lot of fond memories of Christmas. I remember getting really excited and waking up at 5 or 6 am ready to unwrap all the cool new toys that I had asked for that year. What I don’t remember is Jesus. I remember going to my Nanny’s house in New South Wales and spending time at the beach exploring the rocks and getting dunked by waves. What I don’t remember is Jesus. I remember the laughter and joy that our friends and family had when they came over and visited. What I don’t remember is Jesus. I remember a lot of great things. Things that I will cherish for the rest of my life. What I don’t remember though is Jesus or anything about Him. It wasn’t until I became a Christian that the meaning of Christmas changed for me.
I think one of the biggest things I realised as I experienced my first few Christmas’ as a Christian was how much Jesus really was absent. I would turn the T.V on in the morning to find someone preaching on the Christmas story, instead finding cartoons or prosperity preachers. I became hyper-aware of how much God was not a part of Christmas in my family. This really surprised me (it probably shouldn’t have) because Christmas was meant to be all about Jesus, right? I guess so. What I’ve come to realise though is that Christmas is really a non-Christian holiday that Christians use to glorify God in the best way that they can. So it shouldn’t surprise us when we don’t find Jesus on many Christmas cards or on T.V. Why would there be? Christmas isn’t really Christian…
A New Meaning
So then what does Christmas mean to me now? Well, Christmas means to me three main things. First, Christmas is a day of connection. Connecting to people, family and friends I never see for the rest of the year is vital for me because, for some of them, I am the only Christian influence that they might have that entire year. Second, Christmas is a day that the Gospel can be talked about almost freely without repercussions. Most people know who the “Jesus guy” is, now is the time to declare to them the depth and love of His grace so that they might enter into His kingdom. Lastly, it is a day in which I can bring glory to our Lord. For me, Christmas can be a day where God can be glorified in the gift giving, food eating, and every other activity that I do. With these three things in mind, every Christmas day can be centred on the person and work of Christ. Christmas has taken on a new meaning.