Column: Jesus: The reason for the season


One of my oldest and dearest friends, Pastor Mike Miller, recently reached out to ask me to offer some insights into an article he was writing for his church newsletter.

As I read what he had written, I found myself both convicted and encouraged. His words cut through the mess of our current crisis and through the mess we often make of this time of year and point us to the true heart of Christmas. I am pleased he has agreed to allow me to share his words with you.

The other night, I watched the little lights on the tree in my front yard twinkle. As I did so, the thought occurred to me that, despite the hardships of 2020 and the alterations of holiday plans, Christmas will soon be here. It will be here regardless of a pandemic, civil and political unrest, and toilet paper shortages. Dec. 25 is coming, whether we are ready or not. And I, for one, am resolved to be ready. How? I’m glad you asked.

I am going to turn my attention to Jesus.

The young couple, Mary and Joseph, did not hold a large family gathering on the first Christmas. They had no holiday Starbucks cups. They visited no shopping malls full of shoppers and fake Santa’s with shrieking children on their laps. There were no carolers or parties. There wasn’t even a candlelight church service! There was Mary and Joseph, some animals, and a town full of people waiting to be counted for tax purposes. There was almost no fanfare whatsoever, apart from a few shepherds bidden by the angels to go and see the child in swaddling-clothes.

It seems like this year has been bent on stripping us of all of these outward things. Large family gatherings don’t make sense right now. Starbucks cups are still around, but the drive-thru line is too long because no one can go into the store. The mall I visited a few days ago was pretty full, but honestly, it was hard to feel comfortable with that many people around. So what is left? What’s left to enjoy, if not these things? Simple: It’s Jesus. It’s always only ever been about Him. We’ve never needed these other things. Every year we hear trite phrases like, “Christmas is all about spending time with the ones you love” or “Christmas is a time for giving.” Really, those things are good, but those phrases are not true, and never have been.

One phrase we also typically hear is profoundly true: “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” This phrase, though, stands in opposition to the others. If Jesus is the reason for the season, why do we cram so many other things into it? Our hearts have been exposed. We have replaced Jesus with family gatherings where, many times, we only tacitly acknowledge that it is about the incarnation. We have replaced the meaningful gifts of the Magi (who were not even present until after Christmas) with toys and games and food.

So this year, instead of lamenting the weirdness of our current circumstances, let us set our minds on Christ, who became flesh and dwelt among us. He is the only begotten of the Father. The Son came without fanfare to those who would reject him because the Father was pleased to give Him as a gift to the world.

In return for our focus on Jesus, we have the opportunity to receive, as the angels sang to the shepherds that night near Bethlehem, peace and good will. Mankind deserves neither, but in the fullness of God, Jesus offers us both.

The Rev. Jeremy Myers is the lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Seymour. Read his blog at Send comments to [email protected].

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