No, I don’t mean what city, state, or country you’ll actually end up spending Christmas in. I mean, what is the end of your Christmas season? What do you hope to accomplish? What’s the point?
Most of us will answer this question in similar ways. We want to spend time with family. We want a couple of days off of work. We want some eggnog. We want to veg and watch never-ending specials of The Christmas Story. The year has taken a toll on many of us, and we long to get away from the traffic, TPS reports, and daily grind of life–if even for a couple of moments. Hot drinks, snow (hopefully minimal amounts), the flicker of a fire, and the twinkling of a lighted tree fill the state of mind which is Christmas. But what is our end? When the new year begins and that vicious cycle of Monday mornings kicks off yet again, what will our holiday season have been about?
I think family is wonderful; I have the best as far as I’m concerned. I like eggnog (but not in large quantities). I think Ralphie and his bunny suit are awesome. I thrive off of a good fire in the fireplace next to the soft glow of a Christmas tree. But I don’t want my Christmas to be about any of these things, and we would be naive to think that, if left to ourselves, we would make it about anything else. On my own, all of these things sound like pretty decent ends to Christmas. But they’re just not enough. They are beautiful things to experience, but they are not enough. When family is gone and eggnog can’t be found on the grocery shelves, when the last bit of peppermint ice-cream has been greedily consumed, when it’s 80 degrees and there’s no need for a fire, when our trees have wilted and become prickly, and when a restful moment is nowhere in sight, what is the end?
The chorus of the first Christmas still reaches us two-thousand years later, and its melody is strong and enduring: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14). What did this mean for the shepherds who overheard it? What did this mean for the Creation as it waits and longs even now for newness and rebirth? What did this mean for God’s people?
The Christmas chorus which was sung in Bethlehem that night echoed the theme that had been sung ever since there were voices to sing it: worship God. Worship God. Not vacation. Worship God. Not family. Worship God. Not rest. Worship God. Not Christmas.
Not Christmas? Friends, Christmas has become an ideal in our society, an entity enmeshed with hot-chocolate, Santa Claus, endless sales, and the fir-tree. It’s a form divorced from its substance. If I’m honest, I can zoom through this season without the proper disposition, without the proper mindset. In the rush and distraction, I can easily find myself on January 1 thinking, Wait. What just happened? But the Christmas chorus brings me back. It must bring us back. Why did Jesus come? Why was He born? Why did He live and die? Why was He raised? Why does He rule and reign even now? Why is He coming again?
The whole rescue mission was planned and orchestrated so that we could be brought back to the right disposition–a disposition of humility, worship, and praise to the God of all heaven and earth. It’s here that we find the joy we’ve all longed for. It’s here that all things click and make sense. We exist to make much of Him. In the anticipated rest, familial happiness, and good time that is to come for many of us, let us make much of Him. Let us join in the Christmas chorus and let it carry and lift us past His good gifts up to the Giver Himself. But even if your Christmas season contains none of these things, Christmas is not taken from you. It is offered to you in the person of Jesus. As we grasp Him by faith, with or without family, presents, or rest, we can still engage in the End of Christmas. Let us make much of Him.
Let us make much of Him as we receive and give gifts to those we love, for He is the Great Gift.
Let us make much of Him as we sit and visit with family and friends, for He is our True Family and Our Closest Friend.
Let us make much of Him as we rest, for He is the True Rest.
Let us make much of Him, because He is God, and He has done great things.
Angels from the realms of glory
Wing your flight o’er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation’s story
now proclaim Messiah’s birth:
Come and Worship,
Come and Worship,
Worship Christ the newborn King.