Mick’s Memo – Reflecting on the Season

Followers of Jesus can be conflicted at this time of year.  We can legitimately enjoy a time of reflection on the incarnation and its profound demonstration of God’s sovereign plans and amazing grace.  But we are also inundated with lures calling us to indulge our desires for possessing and consuming. People of different faiths, even no faith at all, enthusiastically celebrate by exchanging gifts, cards, family updates, and make this time “special” for everyone.  It can provide an opportunity for us to engage in positive dialogue with friends and family who may not have placed their faith in the incarnate Messiah, Jesus. For those seeking to walk with Jesus there is the conflict between wanting to honor Jesus and celebrate that God cares enough about us to send Jesus into the world; and not wanting to affirm materialistic or pagan beliefs.  In that light I offer suggestions to keep the focus on Jesus.

First, I would link the remembrance to Scripture.  Use this time to read together as a family about predictions the Old Testament gave about the Messiah and how Jesus’ birth fulfilled those predictions.  Read the birth narratives and discuss their significance; how God intervened with angelic messengers, with both the birth of John and the birth of Jesus; how God preserved Jesus in infancy by calling Joseph to flee to Egypt.  Discuss the characters involved; both good and bad. Read the prologue to John’s gospel (1:1-18) where we see the heaven’s eye perspective behind Jesus’ coming to earth as a human. Discuss the current passages related to our sermon series on the “Long Expected One”.

Second, I would make a clear distinction between “civic traditions” and the narrative of Jesus’ historical birth.  I think it is up to every parent to prayerfully decide how to do this. Some may include the “Santa” story some not.  Whether or not one does, I would encourage respect for others’ right to handle it for their children. Find some faith-building ways to make it about Jesus.  Find a “Messiah” production or sing-along. Plan to attend and bring friends to our children’s presentation of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”.

Third, I would guard against the budget-breaking, debt inducing, spending sprees that mark the secular expression of the “holiday”.  Hand crafted, or service-oriented gifts are great alternatives and a budget-sensitive “ceiling” for spending should be established.

Finally, keep the main things the main thing.  Celebrate God’s love and grace. The praises of Simeon found in the birth narrative in Luke’s gospel are a great example to follow!

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.”  Luke 2:29-32 (NIV)

Reflect on Jesus’ willingness to set aside the glory and perfections of heaven only to enter a violent, greed-filled and immoral world; all the while knowing He would be rejected and put to death by the very people He came to rescue (John 1:11-12).

Looking forward to seeing you this weekend as we consider “David’s Heir”,

Mick

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