Chrissy Patterson is our most excellent Sunday School leader at Hope Baptist Church. With her morning devotionals during the Sunday School openings, she often has some thoughtful insights about events of the week accompanied with inspiring application, commentary and connection with Scripture.
Last Sunday, she pointed out something I had not thought about before. She said that every Christmas season brings change. For her, a certain family member had passed away during the course of the year. Because of that, there would not be the usual expressions of Christmas shared with that individual, who would be sincerely missed. A Christmas card would not be sent, for example, to that person. It is a notable change for this season.
But, on the other hand, a child had been added to family, and there was the joy of looking for Christmas presents for that child. It is regarded as a welcome change.
While it is true that adjustments are often required of us at Christmas, it is equally true, she added, that celebrating the Birth of Jesus Christ is a constant about which our hearts and minds should not waver. The people of the Church should not fail to worshipfully observe and respect it regardless of circumstances.
Once a church member told me they hated the Christmas season because a certain thing had happened about Christmas time, and it produced a bad memory. It is understandable that Christmas joys are thwarted for many reasons. Life is hard. The ability to share is sometimes meager or non-existent in some family ranks.
But, if there is one thing that the Christmas season teaches us is that celebrating the Birth of Christ rises above life experiences, changes, or bad memories. It prevails upon us to memorialize that special gift God gave to all in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.
For, you see, somewhere along the line the Church figured out that the Lord’s birth was very worth the celebration. There were no rules and regulations for dealing with the changes that come to our lives concerning it. There were no guidelines established for gift giving—-other than that exemplified by the Magi—-concerning it. Actually, there is no “thou shalt celebrate it” commandment in the Bible about it.
But, it has come about to celebrate it because of its spiritual import. The Lord Jesus Christ was incarnated into human flesh for the express purpose of giving Himself for death on the Cross and resurrection from the dead. His divine ministry made a vital spiritual difference for the people of the whole world. That reason alone is worth giving the notice.
In the mean time, a drastic change will occur for Terry and me this Christmas Eve and Day. For the first time in forty-two years, we will have the time to ourselves at the house without any kids. Each of our sons has their own households now with their own children.
Therefore, for Terry and me, there will be no going to bed after making final preparations at two o’clock Christmas morning. None of the boys will be here to harass us out of bed at three o’clock Christmas morning. There will be no rousing floorshow with dance and song by them in our bedroom at three o’clock Christmas morning. There will be no Scripture reading of the Nativity Narrative through blurry eyes followed by prayer with raspy voice at four o’clock Christmas morning. There will be no lengthy gift exchange at 4:15 o’clock Christmas morning. There will be no required telephone calls to others at five o’clock Christmas morning. There will be no fixing of a large breakfast at 5:30 o’clock Christmas morning.
Rather, Terry and I anticipate a full night’s sleep with a nine AM rising this Christmas morning. We will sit comfortably in our living room, and we will have a pleasing cup of flavored coffee. We will smile lovingly at each other. By ten o’clock AM, my voice will be good, and I will read from Scripture the Nativity Narrative, and have a prayer. We might even return for a mid-morning nap.
All I can say is, “Merry Christmas to me!”
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio.