So I apologize if right off the bat I start offending people with this one. I have always found the whole reduction of Christmas into a “Happy Birthday Jesus” party a little off putting. It’s not that I don’t realize the whole meaning of the season, but when I think about Birthday parties I can’t help but think about balloons, cake, favors, presents, etc…are these really the things we want to associate with the God who created the universe stepping into human flesh in order to redeem humanity unto Himself? My wife and I were even talking about this the other day in reference to the presents that are given in and around Christmas and she helped me see this in a new light. On one’s Birthday usually that person is the recipient of the gifts and yet, on Jesus “birthday”, we are the ones who receive presents. And here is where my wife is absolutely brilliant. “Maybe Christmas is not so much Jesus’ birthday as much as it is ours…and then giving gifts to each other makes a little mores sense.”
Holy cow! That blows me out of the water. Christmas really is a celebration of our birthdays. Our birth into new life, our birth into right life. All of a sudden the people living in darkness have seen a great light. They have passed from death unto life…been born again. All of a sudden Jesus rooftop conversation with Nicodemus becomes the Christmas story. John 3:5-8 puts it this way, “Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit’.”
So Christmas maybe can be reduced to a birthday celebration (still not to keen on the idea of balloons and cake regardless of my lie for sweets). But not so much the birth of Christ as much as the rebirth of his Children and the promise of the life to come. So if anything, Christmas becomes a reminder of being born into new life and living like those born of the Spirit.
A couple of quick anecdotes to remind myself what this looks like. I had just stopped by the Dollar General store to pick up a couple of supplies the week of Christmas. After I came through line I noticed a very expectant Latino woman and her probably 2 year old son. She was attempting to buy a toy she thought was on special only to realize it wasn’t. Without even thinking twice I pulled out $20 (some money left over from a generous Christmas gift from a family at our church) and handed it to her with a quick “Merry Christmas”. The very next day I saw a guy walking near the church in the cold over-burdened with a couple of grocery sacks. I pulled up to him and offered a ride. He still had two miles to go in 20 degree weather and the bags weighed at least 40 lbs between the two.
I am not telling these stories in a brag fashion at all, but I can’t help but think about that idea of those who come and go living born of the Spirit. I don’t think that God moves people into our path at random. He aligns our present into His future. And our rebirth should continually dominate our thoughts in the present. Maybe we need to be reminded of our rebirth and become sensitive to the Spirit’s prodding during this season. You never know what He might bring your way.