A Different Christmas
This past year, after I had turned 39 (and now 40), I asked my dad, "As you get older, does time really speed up?" I had barely finished the question when he replied with an authoritative, "Yes. Life speeds up tremendously." And here we are. Another Christmas. The funny thing is that I had asked him that question sometime around last Christmas. I know I say this most years, but this 41st Christmas for me arrived all too quickly. 

In our house, Christmas is fun. My wife and I are youthful at heart and our kids look forward to the season every year. Each year, we try to focus our family on what Christmas is about. But just like many of you, every year we buy too many presents, eat too much food, and try to slow the day down and enjoy every minute. This has me asking a question - or maybe it's that I'm 40 now and have been a bit introspective the past month. How do we make Christmas about Jesus? How could this year be different? 

Charles Spurgeon said about Christmas, "Now, we citizens of the New Jerusalem, having the Lord Jesus in our midst, may well excuse ourselves from the ordinary ways of celebrating this season; we may keep it after a different sort from other men, in holy contemplation and in blessed service of that gracious God whose unspeakable gift the new-born King is to us."  I don't know about you, but that resonates with me - celebrating Christmas in an extraordinary way. What if we could celebrate Christmas differently - in an extraordinary way?

Many of us try to make Christmas extraordinary but we go about it in ordinary ways. We spend a little more on gifts. We decorate in such a way that is worthy of the most popular Pinterest board. We come up with creative recipes. The use of ordinary means to make the holiday extraordinary stretches beyond our own personal attempts. 

Churches try to outdo one another with clever Christmas messages, media, smoke machines, music, candle-light services, traditions, and parties. We sing the same songs but with different arrangements and hope that Jesus will be worshiped in the middle of all of the chaos. Many churches finds themselves wrapped up in the Christmas season in a very ordinary way. More ordinary means will never translate into something extraordinary but rather gluttony. 

So how can we celebrate Christmas in an extraordinary way? I would encourage each of us to reflect on the words of the great preacher as they echo from the past - when we free ourselves from the ordinary means of Christmas we are free to enjoy holy contemplation and great service of our gracious God who became a lo-born king. 

Don't worry, I'm not going to get boring on you - at least that is not my intention. I think we should have Christmas trees, and lights, and concerts, and special events and parties. I think that we should be thoughtful in our gift exchanges. However, these things in and of themselves will not make Christmas extraordinary. 

What makes Christmas extraordinary for the Christian is the fact that God loved us so much that he gave up all he had in heaven so that he might give us all he has in heaven. Jesus came to earth to give us all things. This is why Christmas is different for the Christian. We have been freed by Jesus, unleashed from the way this world tries to find joy, that we might find our joy in the eternal Christ. 

Be different this Christmas. If you have kids, sit down and plan out some practical ways that you will be together as family and take some of that time to talk about Jesus. If you haven't been to church in a while, come back. Spend some time with people who love Jesus. If you're hurting this Christmas, remember that Jesus and his family were hurting too - he knows what it is like to suffer. If things are going well for you, take some time to enter into someone else's suffering - they won't ruing your Christmas, they might just help you focus on the extraordinary nature of Christmas. 

The point is, be intentional about being where Jesus would lead you. If your eyes are fixed on his extraordinary person, your Christmas will be extraordinary. 
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