My Advice This Christmas
If I may borrow from Charles Dickens’ famous opening line, Christmas can be “the best of times and the worst of times.” We have them both, don’t we?
Who hasn’t cringed in September as stores drag out and display the artificial Christmas trees? Who hasn’t felt uneasy about the obligatory exchange of gifts with individuals you hardly know? Something about those annual experiences can make them seem like “the worst of times.”
But I prefer to view Christmas as “the best of times.” This is God’s annual reminder to us, in effect: “Feel the warmth in all the lights? Smell that tree? See those gifts? Hear those songs? My Son came and died for you.” The things familiar are reminders of things essential.
“I will always be ready to remind you of these things,” the apostle Peter wrote, “even though you already know them” (2 Pet. 1:12). Isn’t that great? We need regular reminders of essential truths.
In the Old Testament the Lord used tangible objects and actions as memory triggers—phylacteries on the forehead, special food at Passover, stones beside rivers, and trumpets for the New Year. The sights, sounds, smells, tastes—these seasonal traditions—reignited the passions of God’s people and reminded them of His love and His commands. Christmas can do the same for us.
You string up the lights. You trim the tree. You wrap the presents. You attend a Christmas Eve service. It’s all familiar...it’s just words, just lights, just a tree, just gifts, just songs.
Wait a minute!
Remember that Jesus was born of a virgin. Don’t forget how the angels lit the shepherds’ field with God’s glory, announcing the birth of a Savior. You and I needed a Savior—One who would and could die for our sins.
My advice this Christmas? Allow the traditions of the season to stir you up by way of reminder. Allow the things familiar to point you to things essential. Don’t miss them.
--Dr. Charles R. Swindoll, Chancellor