The Purpose of Christmas (Part 2): A Time for Celebration
Who of you, like me, loves a good party? As a natural extrovert I definitely love the opportunity to connect with old friends and new but for me parties are about so much more than just my own interaction with others. (Or as my introverted friends would put it - it’s about so much more than just “peopleing”) I love the excitement and energy in the room as people from all walks of life come together, for the first or the thousandth time. I love hearing the hum of chatter and the bursts of laughter coming from different parts of the room. I love introducing one friend to another and helping others make new connections and form new friendships. I love the set up. I love the hosting. I love the serving. And I even love the cleaning because I am doing so with a heart so very full from all the joy the party brought to my soul.
I think that may be why I love Christmas so much. It’s the one Holiday that doesn’t just get a day of celebration but a whole month! For a party loving person like myself, December is the best month of the year!!! We do Advent readings as a family and enjoy Advent calendars filled with chocolates. We tour the local Christmas lights (some years MULTIPLE times) and attend countless holiday parties with friends, family, and co-workers. We do Christmas book reading countdowns and daily Christmas themed activities with our kiddos. Like I said before, when it comes to Christmas, we as a society know how to PAR-TAY! But how often do we slow down long enough to consider WHY we are celebrating?
As a Christian, of course my first answer to the question “What is the reason for the season?” would be Jesus! But when I truly stop to look at all of the celebration happening all around me (and the things hosted BY me), how much of it truly points back to Him? Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose of Christmas” really drove this home for me when he wrote how he asked Christmas shoppers this question - “What are you celebrating this Christmas?”
When I first read that question I readily answered, “Getting to be together with my family in Florida.” Those Mr. Warren polled answered much the same with answers like “that I made it through another year”...”that I got a Christmas bonus”...”that I've finished all of my Christmas shopping”. And though these are all definitely things worth celebrating this Christmas they were never intended to be the REASON we are celebrating.
So what is the REASON for the season? If you answered Jesus then yes…you are right! But it doesn’t stop there! It doesn’t stop with a baby born in a barn filled with smelly animals and old men coming to bring him random gifts. The reason for the season, as Mr. Warren points out, is to celebrate that GOD LOVES YOU, GOD IS WITH YOU, and GOD IS FOR YOU!!! In fact “God loves you so much that He came to earth as a human so you could get to know Him and learn to trust Him and love Him back.” Why? Because HE LOVES YOU! He left His heavenly home to be born as a baby on this broken place called earth so that even during the most difficult and fear filled times you would know you are not alone and He is with you every step of the way. Isaiah 43:2 says “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Why? Because HE IS WITH YOU. And He declares in Jeremiah 29:11 “I know the plans I have for you…Plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” “No one wants what’s best for you more than God.” Why? Because HE IS FOR YOU!!
So this Christmas, as you hustle from one Holiday party to the next, I challenge you to be intentional to recognize not just WHO you are celebrating but also WHY you are celebrating by asking yourself these questions:
“What, from this past year, are you thankful to God for?
“Since it’s Jesus’ birthday, what gift will you give Him this next year?”
You may not be able to answer those questions quite as readily as “What is the reason for the season?” and that’s ok! Take some time. Think. Pray. Reflect. Journal. And then when you come up with your answers I would LOVE for you to come back and leave those in the comments so we celebrate God’s goodness together!
Now…who’s ready to party?!?!?