Experience Christmas with Jesus!
Christmas with Jesus - It can be elusive in the midst of all our preparations for Christmas Day. So many of us go about the festivities without really knowing what it is we are celebrating. It's just a "holiday".
Unless, we keep our focus where it should be - on Christmas with Jesus. Each year as Thanksgiving passes, and the anticipation of Christmas builds, we usually get tangled up (sometimes literally), in putting the lights up, the lawn decorations out, getting the biggest and best tree we could find, putting on countless ornaments, baking tons of cookies, and lets not forget all the present shopping! This in itself is not wrong.
Our thinking is the more decorations, presents, and busy we are, the more Christmas spirit we have.
But Christmas with Jesus is different. Despite our best decorating efforts, and all our Christmas activities, we know that deep in our hearts there should be something more - Christmas with Jesus.
Lots of people are attracted to Christmas because of all the "good cheer" and "holiday spirit" surrounding it. Who wouldn't want to celebrate - with Christmas parties, plays, beautiful decorations, delicious foods and so many gifts?
But many people join in on the celebrations without truly knowing what it is they are celebrating. They are missing Christmas with Jesus.
Ask yourself this: If you took away the tree, the presents, the decorations, the food and music - would there be anything left to celebrate?
To truly experience Christmas with Jesus, we need to go back and search the meaning of the original event. That very first Christmas with Jesus.
You can find the original Christmas story in your Bible in Matthew 1:18 - 2:23 and Luke 1:26 - 2:40.
This time, instead of just reading it, try experiencing it!
Christmas with Jesus is something to be experienced.
Read it slowly and pause to imagine the scene. Pretend you are one of the original people there. Put yourself in the story. Imagine you are Mary - a frightened, 13 year old about to give birth - not in a hospital with the doctors and nurses of today - but in a shabby stable where animals are kept and only her inexperienced husband to attend to her.
What could she have been thinking?
How would you have responded to those circumstances?
How did Mary respond?
See Luke 2:19 or Click on Christmas Verses.
Here's a cool way to experience that first Christmas with Jesus-
Try walking outside at night and imagine what the shepherds saw - an angel shining brightly with the glory of the Lord - speaking to them about a Savior being born! Then a multitude of heavenly hosts - hundreds, maybe thousands lighting up the dark sky, all singing and praising God. See Matthew 2:8-15.
Not your average night for watching sheep!
In fact it wasn't your average night period!
Think about it for a minute. The eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, holy, glorious God left heaven and came into our world - our planet. And this is how he chose to be found - "lying in a manger". See Luke 2:12.
We've become so accustomed to the story and the scene that we fail to notice its absurdity.
I think one reason God chose to be found this way is so we would take notice and dwell on this a bit. Imagine this first Christmas with Jesus.
This scene of a baby lying in a manger was meant to be strange - to make us wonder...
A baby lying in a manger was a promised sign to the Shepherds from the angel that appeared. (Luke 2:12)
Even in those days, a stable and a manger for a crib was very primitive and unusual.
The shepherds finding the baby Jesus exactly as the angel had told them was a fulfillment of the promised sign - a confirmation that what the angel told them was the truth.
And I truly believe that Mary and Joseph were relieved when the Shepherds found them and told them all the angel had said concerning Jesus.
The ordeal they had just been through - the long treacherous journey, no place to rest, giving birth in a stable with a manger to hold your newborn - had to have been extremely difficult. Maybe their faith was a litte shaken. Maybe they were thinking - Is this how God's chosen one was to be born?
I think they needed to hear it from the Shepherds - that this WAS God's plan. It hadn't gone wrong. This was exactly where He wanted to make His entrance into our world. This was just how He planned the first Christmas with Jesus.
But why here?
I believe there are several reasons why God chose such lowly means to enter this earth.
1) He wanted to relate to all of us - no matter what our stature or place in society. If he had come as a king with chariots of gold and precious jewels accompanied with thousands of angels, we would have been frightened and intimidated.
But when someone so much greater than us, humbles himself before us - It is powerful. And that's exactly what God did for us.
By humbling himself in this way, He ws telling us that He came to be available and accessible to us all - the ordinary shepherd, a lying tax collector, an uneducated fisherman, an adulterous woman, a self-righteous Pharisee, and even to me. He didn't come as a king to mingle only with high society, but He came to us ALL.
2) He wanted to show us His great love for us.
Out of His mercy and incredible love for us, He left his home - paradise- to be born as a helpless infant, in a filthy stable, to endure a life filled with rejection, hostility, humiliation, betrayal and ultimately, death on a cross.
Why would He ever do this?
He wants you to understand His great love for us. That there is nothing He wouldn't do to bring us back into a relationship with Him.
3) He wanted us to never be without Him again.
He came as baby Jesus or Immanuel, which means "God with us." When He died on the cross, His last words were, "and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age". (Matthew 28:20).
So we are never alone anymore, no matter what we may be feeling. From now on, we will never be alone. God is the answer to our deepest lonliness.
In other words, we can experience Christmas with Jesus all year round.
I am so touched and awed to spend my Christmas with Jesus. And everyday with Him.
You too can spend everyday like it was Christmas with Jesus. Start with reading the Christmas Story in your Bible.