December is a favorite month for many Americans. We have entered the “holiday season” where both the religious and non-religious are busy with activity. There is the gift shopping and giving, parties, vacations, get-togethers with friends and family, special dinners and celebrations. Multicultural traditions are a normal part of a pluralistic society. Everyone seems to enjoy the season in their own distinct way. In addition, there are numerous religions with observations in December.
Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, Charlie Brown and the Grinch captivate the imaginations of children. The dreams of a white Christmas, mistletoe, a warm fire in the fireplace with chestnuts roasting, plenty of food and drink, makes the Yuletide season exciting for kids and adults alike. Holiday music plays on a loop on many radio stations.
Retail stores bombard the television networks with holiday merchandise, promising the “magic of Christmas” and to bring abundant holiday joy to the recipients. The Hallmark Channel plays Christmas movies around the clock the entire month! This month has been coined, “the most wonderful time of the year.” It is certainly a month unlike any other. No wonder people talk about how exhausted they are!
For Christians, December focuses on the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. The familiar Bible text, from the second chapter of the gospel of Luke, testifies of the journey of Joseph and his espoused wife, Mary, to Bethlehem. Mary, who was in her ninth month of pregnancy, journeyed with Joseph, to register for the census. Joseph was in the family tree of King David.
This mandate from Caesar Augustus required they travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the city of David, to register the family in King David’s royal line. This is key in the birth of Jesus. While Joseph was not his biological father, it nonetheless gave Jesus the “legal” right to sit one day upon the throne of Israel. One day Jesus will sit upon David’s throne and rule as King of Kings and Lord of Lords! This will be the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant.
In Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians (Chapter 4:4), he states that at the perfect time of God’s eternal plan, the Father would send His only begotten Son into the world to be born of a virgin, conceived of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is named Immanuel, God with us. The Incarnate Son of God. Mary would give birth in a lowly manger and the birth would be heralded by a heavenly host of angels to shepherds in the field. The angelic host proclaimed good tidings of great joy, for all people. A Saviour was born, to save people from their sin. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men! (Luke 2: 14).
While our secular society is busy with the material components of the holidays, it is important for believers to thank God and worship Him for this “unspeakable gift.” The spiritual reality of this season. I can recall many significant gifts in my lifetime that were truly wonderful. None of them compare to the gift of eternal life, this unspeakable gift, which I received by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ!
This gift of salvation is beyond the capability of mankind to fully declare its wonder. It is offered to the fallen race of humanity, all of whom need the Saviour. By God’s grace, the gift of salvation is received through faith in that sacrificial death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you received this gift of eternal life? What a tremendous gift to receive this holiday season!
It is my expressed hope that each of you enjoy the festivities of the season. Feast, sing and praise God from whom all blessings flow! But let us make time to worship the King of Glory, the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. We are grateful that God became man in order to pay for our sins upon the cross, with His blood. Yet, our worship and adoration should be throughout the year, not just on a day at the end of the year. Praise Him, Jesus our Blessed Redeemer!
Finally, as gifts are bought and received, let us remember the charities who, with limited resources, commit themselves in helping the poor and needy. They need our financial gift as well as the possibility of offering our time to volunteer. May you and your family enjoy the season and remember, God loves YOU!
Jon Shonebarger may be reached by email at [email protected]