I got up this morning to the first snow of the season. It didn't take long for the sun to melt it away, but snow seems appropriate now. It even helps me look forward to Christmas.
Just a few weeks ago, stores were putting out the first Christmas stock after Halloween. It was too early and I wasn't ready. There was still November and Thanksgiving ahead. But, as you read this Grace Notes, Advent will be just around the corner. It's time for the anticipation and the celebration to begin.
This is the darkest time of the year with the sun setting early and rising late. But we challenge the dark by decorating our homes, offices and schools with light. Christians know light SHINES in the darkness. Most plants are dormant, having died back, standing leafless and gray. In the face of this apparent death, we hang evergreens, because Christians believe in resurrection. Add a splash of red because holly berries are red and you have a symbol of the means of new life, the blood of Christ. This season is the time of hope and joy because Christians know God has begun his greatest work.
Our culture is torn regarding Christmas. Do we even say Merry Christmas? While this is a massive cultural shift and not to be taken lightly, it really shouldn't surprise Christians. Those who don't know Jesus can't exalt him, and those who don't believe Jesus is Christ won't celebrate his birth. So, as the culture drifts further toward a post-Christian era those who are not Christians have more trouble tolerating Christian symbols. They like the gifts, the parties, but they'd like to do it without Jesus.
WE are those who believe. WE know the darkness will one day flee. WE know that death awaits resurrection. WE know the baby in the manger is the God of creation, come to set us free from sin and death. Isn't it so much more fun to go to a birthday party when you love the one whose birth is celebrated? What a privilege to be Christians at Christmas time!
Since we understand our celebration and that others can't truly join in the fun, we know how to respond to the culture. We don't have to be surprised or angry. We can stand firm and confident for Christ. We can remind the world Jesus is the reason for the whole season. They will try to push that fact away, but they will find the truth flashing on every Christmas tree, and wrapped in every Christmas gift. And we get to say, “Merry Christmas” and actually mean those words - that the birth of Christ will bring joy and peace to those who don't know Christ yet.
So BE joyful!
BE the ones who celebrate!
BE the ones who worship!
It's time for the anticipation and celebration to begin!
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