“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” Luke 2.15-17
Driving at night this time of the year we find such an amazing displays of lights. From Zilker Park in Austin, which I saw last night, to the Walkway of Lights in Marble Falls, the amount that people spend on lighting is incredible. This doesn’t include all the residential homes or retail stores decorated in festive cheer.
But I’m wondering the significance of all these displays from a non-Christian perspective? What’s the purpose for those who don’t believe Jesus? Are they celebrating for celebrations sake? Are they like the Kardashians who are famous for being famous? Is the holiday season simply a reason to be festive, eat food, give presents, enjoy family, or decorate houses and trees? What is the big deal about Christmas if it’s not about Christ? What is the “amazement factor” if the Messiah isn’t front and center?
The naivety story in Luke tell us about the exciting night surrounding the birth of Jesus. Hosts of angels were singing and shouting God’s praise, shepherds were spreading the word of the birth of the Christ, Mary and Joseph were entertaining visitors, and everyone who heard the news was amazed at what the shepherds said to them. The amazement came in the form of particular news about God’s activity in the world. The excitement, just in case you are wondering, was about a God who came down in human form to mix with human hearts and redeem the world from evil, sin and hopelessness.
Now people can create their own fake news or false hope all they want — they do it every day. It’s represented in a post-Christian nation celebrating the season of Christmas. But still we must return to the question — what’s the big deal? If Christ isn’t in Christmas then why celebrate at all?
The good news is found in the Good News of Jesus. The reason for our celebration is not vanity, neighborhood light competitions, or splendid Santa displays, it’s Jesus, his birth, his life, his death and his resurrection. Christmas represents the best that God could offer the world and the opening of the gift of life to all who would believe.
Do you believe? Why do you celebrate? How are you amazed at the love of Christ made manifest through the birth of the Son?
”O Lord God, Christmas is close. Presents are wrapped. Trees are lit and many have no reason why they celebrate so joyfully. But we know the reason and we are called, just like the shepherds, to proclaim the birth of the Messiah. So this is my proclamation of the amazement of the birth of the Christ. He came to save us and sanctify us by his blood. Thank you Jesus for coming to earth. Thank you Father for giving of your Son. Thank you Holy Spirit for making your home in my heart and for helping me believe. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen