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The Real Meaning Of Christmas?

“The real meaning of Christmas” is a phrase often used. Christians regret the fact that society seems to have forgotten it. Others use it to refer to something they think is core to Christmas (but they might not be right.) What is it?

I was shocked to hear a commentator on the radio recently saying that the real meaning of Christmas is commercialism. She stated explicitly that Christmas is really about shopping. She didn’t want anyone interfering with that. Maybe she was joking. Please tell me that she was joking.

Wikipedia says that “the true meaning of Christmas” is often given “vague religious overtones” but in pop culture it means “a sort of introspective and benevolent attitude”.

See this TV3 News item. When it concludes by saying “It is all about celebrating the real meaning of Christmas” what do they believe it is? Giving? Caring? It is interesting that the item starts by saying Christmas is meant to be about “food, family and festivities”. Really?

Here is a great story about a mother who wanted to change the perspective of her children. She really is onto something. Their generosity and love for others reflects God’s generosity in giving His Son because He loved the world so much. They are onto something important and lots of families could benefit by following suit. But there is also something missing. The headline says that the real meaning of Christmas is giving. Candace is quoted as saying, “In my eyes Christmas is about spending time with family, making memories and having lots of good food…”

What is missing is Jesus. Any explanation you hear cannot possibly be the real meaning of Christmas if it doesn’t refer to Jesus. The TV3 item claimed to be about the real meaning of Christmas but didn’t mention Jesus. In fact, it said that Santa’s workshop had come to Auckland!

And it is more than simply living in the way that Jesus taught and modelled. It is more than pulling our moral socks up. It is about the salvation that comes through faith in Jesus and repentance. Not to put too fine  a point on it, it is actually about our sin and the need for salvation.

Here are some links to Christian pages explaining it.

Do you own investigation. To discover the real meaning we need to go not to Wikipedia or to the media. We need to know what the Bible says. Why don’t you list some passages that explain the meaning of Christmas? There are many passages, for example, that say why Jesus came into the world. List as many as you can and then summarise what you see.

For a start, watch Charlie Brown’s Christmas

But does even that focus on Jesus and then confuse the message somewhat? Is it really about appreciating the less spectacular tree?

Here are some passages that explicitly state why Jesus came.

How Did John The Baptist Prepare For Christmas?

Today I read this article entitled “How Did John The Baptist Prepare For Christmas?” and it got me thinking.

Here’s my adaption of the main points. I thought there was at least one thing that could be added. Look at your programme for the next two weeks. Have you planned time for the following?

Repentance

  • John’s primary message was repentance.
  • What should change in your life because of the Kingdom of God?

Simplicity

  • John wore rough clothes and ate locusts and honey.
  • How should you reduce what you have, and do, so as to live a simpler, more Christ-pleasing life?

Evangelism

  • John whole purpose was to point people to Jesus.
  • Who will you tell about Jesus this Christmas?

Worship

  • John humbled himself and glorified Jesus. He baptised.
  • Will you take time to thank and praise Jesus, and listen to Him?

May this Christmas season be a particularly meaningful one for you,

Peter

Phil Clark

Some of you met Phil Clark when he was here with Tim Scheuer. Phil is the Captain of the Church Army, the evangelistic arm of the Anglican Church.

Since being here, Phil has been extremely sick with oesophageal cancer and given limited time to live. That’s one side of the story. he other is that he has recently walked a half-marathon. Read his story here.

Power Off. Family On

What  a great idea!

On the weekend of Fathers’ day (4-6 September) why not join in and turn off your devices so as to do more with the family. See the website.

Here’s some of the promotional videos.

Nigel Latta Explains The Power Off/Family On Weekend

Nigel Latta Explains The “Rules”

Parents: Bernice Mene

Parents: Al Brown

Parents: Nigel Latta

Ideas: Al Brown

Ideas: Peter Urlich

As a bonus…

Free e-book: Kevin DeYoung’s “Taking God At His Word”

Kevin DeYoung’s book, Taking God At His Word, is available free for a short time – until 14th July.

The sub-title is “Why the Bible is knowable, necessary, and enough, and what that means for you and me”.

The e-book can be downloaded in mobi (Kindle), epub or pdf format.

Follow this link.

See Kevin preaching on this topic: “Inerrancy, Evangelism and Christ’s Unbreakable Bible

Contemporary Sermon – 1.2.15 – Only One Thing Is Necessary

The second in ours series of sermons on experiencing God can be found here. In this sermon I suggest that the Bible teaches that, in life, only one thing is necessary: knowing God.

Does that sound like an over-simplification? I’d be eager to hear your thoughts as you leave comments below.

In his book, The One True Thing, Howard Baker refers to the question “Is Jesus enough?” (p.21). Are we content to focus on Jesus and all that He brings into our lives or do we need to supplement Jesus by pursuing other goals/interests/priorities?

There are some other quotes from the book – quotes from various people who are saying that the one thing that is important is knowing God. The page numbers show where in the book the quote appears.

The one thing that God keeps us to steadily is that we may be one with Jesus Christ. – Oswald Chambers (p.15)

We need not fear that in seeking God only we may narrow our lives or restrict the motions of our expanding hearts. The opposite is true. We can well afford to make God our All, to concentrate, to sacrifice the many for the One… The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One. many ordinary treasures may be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them, the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness. Or if he must see them go, one after one, he will scarcely feel a sense of loss, for having the Source of all things he has in One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight. Whatever he may lose he has actually lost nothing, for he now has it all in One, and he has it purely, legitimately and forever. – A.W. Tozer (p.18-19)

Jesus taught that a disciple has to make his relationship to God the dominating concentration of his life, and to be carefully careless about everything else in comparison to that. – Oswald Chambers (p.21)

God nowhere tells us to give up things for the sake of giving them up. He tells us to give them up for the sake of the only thing worth having – viz. life with Himself. – Oswald Chambers (p.21)

You can grow in knowledge if you take pains to set your heart most upon one thing. That thing is nothing other than a spiritual desire towards God – to please Him, love Him, know Him, here by grace in a little feeling, and in the glory of heaven with a full being – Walter Hilton (p.24)

There are many more. Those ones are just from the introduction!

Over the next while we will explore more about how we can have that relationship with God since that is fundamental to experiencing God.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Feeling Far From God?

Dr David Powlison asks three questions that he might address to a client who says he/she feels far from God They sound like excellent questions we might ask ourselves as part of our own spiritual growth. If we are far from God, how can we have that relationship or renew its intimacy? if we are not, how can we maintain that relationship?

If these questions raise issues that you want to talk about, we would love to have the opportunity to meet with you.

Peter, Rachel and John.