4th Sunday in Advent Meditation

Rom 15:One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.

Among my Reformed buddies, I have some acquaintances who are of the “Christmas and Easter are pagan celebrations” crowd. These are pastors who actively refuse to acknowledge in their churches that these observances exist. They strongly encourage this same attitude among the flock. “Not in scripture!,” is their argument.

Whew… Feeling like these guys would cheer old Ebenezer Scrooge on!

Somehow, there is the impression that Christmas is an idol! For the most part, even among non-believers, it is safe to say that this particular custom is known as a celebration of Christ’s birth. Never, in my fifty-five years, have any of my secular friends said this was a pagan holiday. Not one. They will even put creche scenes on their lawns! Way back yonder, it might have been connected with a heathen winter solstice festival, but so what? Pagan practices are often a distortion of an originally God-honoring custom. We should be thankful we observe it for our Savior and push to ensure it stays that way.

As we finally move from the longest night of the year to that oh so desired sustained daylight, isn’t this a reflection of what John said in his gospel (1:9), “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.?” We long for the warmth and life of the sun, but in truth, it is God’s Son that our sinful, dark souls are crying out for!

Who doesn’t enjoy receiving presents? Isn’t this practice really an acknowledgment of the greatest gift we have received, which is Christ? Don’t festive decorations around the house foreshadow the wondrous beauty we will experience in the glories of heaven because of our faith in him? Those gorgeous evergreen trees we put up every year, in my mind, kinda sorta seem to point to the eternal life we find in our Savior. Then there is the abundant feasting we bemoan due to our expanding waistlines – could it suggest that great end-times banquet when Jesus comes again?

And I cannot forget the lights!

Entire neighborhoods are transformed into sparkling, dazzling, intensely hued spectacles we positively gasp at in the winter darkness! It is interesting to note that Jesus was at a Hanukkah feast (John 10:22) which commemorated the restoration of the Temple. Yet isn’t He the actual Temple of God? Could Hanukkah menorahs reflect the glory of God’s light in Christ? We can’t forget, His light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Perhaps that’s why festive Christmas lights bring such hope (and long lines) in the pitch black of the season. Something to definitely ponder…

So get your Christmas joy on! Christ is, and always will be, the true reason for the season.

In wonder and gratitude,

John