One of my favourite Christmas tunes is “What Christmas Means to Me” by Stevie Wonder. I say “tune” because the lyrics are not much to write home about, but the music is catchy.
Over the last couple weeks, I have been thinking a lot about what Christmas means to me. While the pure excitement and anticipation of the holiday is very real, and I am sure that I will make many joyful memories, the events of the next week are our response to the meaning of Christmas – not the actual meaning itself.
I will enjoy the food and probably eat too much. I’ll watch with anticipation as my children, nieces and nephews open their gifts (and my own inner child can’t wait to find out what is under the tree for me). I am looking forward to spending time with my family. Again, not the reason we celebrate, but the way we do.
So, what does Christmas really mean to me? I have struggled this week as try to put it into words. “Jesus is the reason for the season” just seems too flippant to really grasp the meaning of Christmas. I agree with the statemen; I just feel that a quick little rhyme doesn’t do justice to the magnitude of the event. Maybe the best way for me to articulate what Christmas means to me is to explain it from a perspective I will never truly comprehend.
I read a few years ago, around the time of Prince William’s wedding, that his late mother, Princess Diana, had wanted nothing more than to tell her young son that he could grow up to be whatever he wanted. It is the same thing that every mother wants to tell her child. But Diana knew that William could not grow up to be whatever he wanted. He would grow up to be heir to the throne, with all the responsibility and duty that came with the position.
I imagine that Mary had a similar struggle when raising Jesus. I wonder how much she knew about how his life would play out. Did she understand the prophecy as we do now – that they would be fulfilled in such a gruesome manner? Did she raise Jesus differently than her other children knowing that no matter what she taught Him or what advice she passed along He would never deter from His mission? As she held Him, wrapped in cloths and treasured the events of the first Christmas, did she know her baby couldn’t grow up to be whatever He wanted; He had come to be the Sacrificial Lamb?
You see, Jesus came not to live His life for Himself but to live it for me. He came so that He could experience the ups and downs of being the created, to grow-up feeling the emotions of being human, both the joy and the pain. He faced temptation, mobs and the cross. And He did it for me!
At Christmas, we celebrate our Lord and Saviour coming to redeem us. As I eat the meal, it will be a reminder that God provides for me out of His love. As gifts are exchanged, I know that it is done in honour of God’s ultimate gift for me. As I spend time with loved ones, it reflects God’s desire to be with me.
That is what Christmas means to me.