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The Meaning of Christmas

Posted by Dr. Wade Smith on

For many Christmas is a season spent among family and friends. We plan our calendars around Christmas parties, fellowships and family meals. We offer gifts of love and appreciation. We come together for beautiful worship services and Christmas concerts to proclaim that in the birth of Jesus, God dwells among us. This is the meaning of Christmas.

The familiar Christmas narratives, found in the first chapters of the gospels of Matthew and Luke, tell the wondrous story of a miraculous birth with angels, shepherds, magi, and a glorious star. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph, revealing that Mary, his fiancé, would bear a son. They would call Him, “Immanuel,” which means “God with us.” This is the meaning of Christmas.

Likewise, an angel appeared to Mary announcing that she would bear a holy child that would be called the Son of God. At His birth, an angel appeared to the shepherds proclaiming “good news of great joy for all people, a Savior is born, Christ the Lord.” This is the meaning of Christmas.

Are you familiar with the Christmas story in the first chapter of John’s gospel? John wrote that “in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Then, in the matter of a few verses, John moved decisively from creation to revelation when he proclaimed that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Jesus is the Word! Jesus is the Son of God who came to live and dwell among us. This is the simple, yet profound, meaning of Christmas.

Regrettably, the busyness of the season often distracts and prevents us from considering the depths of the revelation that in Jesus Christ, God lived and dwelled among us. The complexity of our Christmas consumerism overshadows the simplicity of the Nativity. After all, what do you buy someone who doesn’t need anything? The pressure to buy the right “presents” often distracts from the simple meaning of Christmas, the “presence” of God among us.

So, in the true spirit of Christmas, what if we committed to giving “among us” gifts this year? “Among us” gifts remind us that the greatest gifts are not “presents,” but “presence.” “Among us” gifts build and strengthen families, friendships, and relationships. They create opportunities for people to be together. They open doors for deeper relationships. “Among us” gifts say “thank you” to those who have blessed us and “I’m sorry” to those we have hurt or offended. “Among us” gifts see the needs of our neighbors and with compassion and generosity meet those needs because our neighbors live among us.       

Are you finished with your shopping? What if “being present” in the lives of your family, friends and neighbors, became the guiding focus of those gifts? What if more of your “presents” required more of your “presence?”

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, to dwell among us! God changed the world through the “present of presence.” This is the meaning of Christmas!

What if we attempted to do the same? What if we gave the “present of presence” to those we love? I believe it could change our