Christmas & Family

I don’t know about you, but I find it easy to let the value and meaning of Christmas slip by unnoticed. The commercialism of the season arouse our sense of entitlement while our “need to impress” others leaves us void of the true “spirit of giving.” In fact, we may think more about the gifts we hope to receive than the gifts we have the joy and opportunity to give. Some people can become sullen and melancholy thinking about what, or who, they don’t have in their lives. These intrusions do not promote the real value and meaning of Christmas. On the other hand, many of us live complacently in our own little worlds, thinking about our own interests and our own desires. No intrusions, no interruptions, no real intimacy. This does not promote the meaning of Christmas either. Ultimately, Christmas is about the celebration of Christ and what He means in our lives. So, if you will excuse me for a moment, I would be remiss if I did not reflect, at least briefly, on at least one aspect of what Christmas really does mean to me.
In many ways, Christmas is about family. It begins with a family broken. Long before the birth of Christ, God’s children disobeyed Him and created a chasm, a cataclysmic distance, between Father and child. That distance continued to grow as God’s children chose to follow another lover, betraying the One who truly does love and care for us. This constant disobedience caused a growing family rift…a division that grew to enormous proportions, alienating us from our Creator and divorcing us from our God. Repeated adulterous interactions with other gods and behavior that conformed to the lifestyle of the world’s family caused intense pain and anguish in the family of God. Still, God continued to love us. He continued to advance His plan to reveal His abiding love for us. He remained resolute in His pursuit of the mutual, loving relationship with us that He had originally intended. That’s where Christmas comes in.
His plan to restore eternal family relationships included Christ coming to earth as baby; Emmanuel born into a human family. Think of it…when God decided to enter this world, He did so through the doorway of a family. He was born into a family consisting of a teen mother and a stepfather–poor, homeless, isolated, and quite possibly alienated from family and friends. A family so poor and isolated that they gave birth to Jesus in a stable. Jesus grew up in that family. He moved to Egypt with that family. He returned to Israel with that family. He celebrated Jewish feasts and traditions with His family. He honored His parents (the one’s He had created, by the way) enough to listen to them and obey them throughout His life (Luke 2:51). Even at His death, Jesus’ mother, part of His family, stood nearby weeping.
Jesus came to earth as part of an earthly family. He lived His life as part of an earthly family; and, ultimately, He died so we could become part of His heavenly family. He died to reestablish that mutual loving relationship He had with us before we disobeyed, before we left Him for that faithless player named Satan. He died to make us His children–“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God” (1 John 3:1). He died to reveal how much He loves us, His Bride, and to demonstrate the magnitude of His desire to make us part of His eternal family (Ephesians 5:25-27, Revelations 19:7-8).
As we celebrate Christmas, let us also remember to celebrate family. Family is a gift from God…. God’s design to nurture His children in love, peace, and grace. Family is how God chose to enter the world and live as a Man in the world. Family is how God describes His relationship to us. And, because of Emmanuel (God with us) we can spend eternity celebrating our place in the Family of God.

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