I had an interesting thought a few days ago. I was considering the meaning of Christmas and contemplating whether it is an appropriate holiday to celebrate. It seems that, as a Christian, it is a no-brainer to celebrate Christmas. After all, it is the traditional celebration of Jesus’ birthday, right?
Yet, as someone who doesn’t quite fit into the traditional Christian mold, I find myself questioning a lot more than probably the typical church goer. That doesn’t mean I am better. It just means I am different and I approach my relationship with God differently than most people who I attend church with. I observe the Sabbath, the biblical festivals, dietary guidelines, and attempt view the bible through the lens of understanding that Yeshua was fully Jewish and practiced Judaism whole heartedly, as did the apostles.
The interwebs are full of polarizing arguments about Christmas. Is it a Pagan holiday? Is it scriptural? Should we celebrate man-made traditions or holidays? Are we giving in to commercialism? A blogger I follow wrote an excellent piece recently entitled, Christmas is Coming! Don’t Panic!
I would be a hypocrite if I used the argument that Christmas isn’t in the bible. Neither are cars, TVs, or Independence Day, yet I acknowledge all three and more. For that matter, Hanukkah is not considered one of God’s holidays, even though it is noted in the gospel of John, chapter 10 that Yeshua observed. So, using the argument that Christmas isn’t a biblical holiday is not an option for me since my family will light five Hanukkah candles tonight.
It occurred to me that the intended meaning of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of our messiah, Yeshua. Not that this has never occurred to me, but I recently had a vision from a different angle. I envisioned a birthday party with signs saying, “Happy Birthday Terry!” Several friends and family mingling around talking about me and the contributions I’ve made to this world. We all sit down for a wonderful meal together, and afterwards we meander to a room full of beautifully wrapped gifts. As I stare at the pile of gifts, with wide eyes, I watch in amazement as they are passed around the room out to all of the guests, and I stand empty-handed. The gifts are all opened and the guests are thanking each other, happy, and excited to show off their new wares. I now sit, looking around, still empty-handed, wondering what just happened.
That kind of birthday party seems completely ridiculous. Yet it is exactly what we do on the day that we are supposed to celebrate the birth of the most important person in our lives. So how do we change this? It’s not like we can walk into a department store, purchase a gift for Yeshua, wrap it up and present it as a birthday gift. What do you buy the Messiah, who has access to the whole world at his finger tips? It’s not like he’s really excited to get his hands on the latest CD, gadget, or video game.
Perhaps it is a lot easier than we think. After all, Yeshua told us exactly how to shop for him, didn’t he?
And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Matthew 25:40 (ESV)
The answer is so simple. When we do anything for the least of these, we are serving him.
Occasionally I find myself at the grocery store or gas station witnessing someone who can’t fully pay their bill or someone behind me that by appearances, seems to be more needy than I. On a handful of occasions I have succumbed to the tug inside of me and stepped forward to help pay the bill or perhaps leave money with the cashier to help the unsuspecting person behind me. I don’t consider this a significant gesture, nor do I think it is in any way inconveniencing me or my bank account. I typically do not give much thought afterwards to what I’ve done, and if I share the story at all, it is typically only with my wife.
This Christmas season, consider giving gifts to the birthday boy. Find an anonymous way to provide for someone else, even in a small way. Volunteer at the soup kitchen. Buy a present for the community Christmas tree. Drop a bag of food at the food shelf. Anonymously leave a bag of groceries on someone’s doorstep. Invite someone alone to your family holiday dinner.
Find a way to make the least feel like they matter and you will be blessed.