A Christ-Centered Christmas – A Word from Pastor Austin

Whether the holidays fill you with joy or dread, November has come and gone and December is well and truly here. Thanksgiving has passed and now it is time to reload before another round of family dinners, get-togethers, and events. Less than a month and we are on to a new year, but don’t consider this year over. There is still time to make an impact in 2023, whether it is in your own life or another’s. As you find yourself buying and wrapping presents, cutting down or putting together a tree, or squeezing in everything else you put off for this year, here are three simple things you can do to make your holiday season count. 

Remember the Reason. 

In a world that is quick to get wrapped up in their gifts and festivities we cannot go a Christmas season without hearing things like, “Jesus is the reason for the season!” What a beautiful truth we all need reminded of in such a busy time of our lives. We would do well to remember this sentiment in all seasons, not just this one. The truth is Jesus is the reason for every season, every day, every breath, and every heartbeat. Just as Colossians 1:15-17 tells us: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.” Christmas is a great time to reflect on Christ and what he means to us. 

Sadly, for many this does not go beyond the scene of a manger. Many are quick to read the story of Christ’s birth and to sing songs of this glorious sight, but what about the rest? What about his life, his ministry, his death, and his resurrection? During this holiday season don’t just reflect on Christ’s birth, reflect on his cross. Reflect on his resurrection and how he has changed your life. If you are going to reflect on a birth, also reflect on your re-birth in salvation. 

Enjoy the festivities and the glorious virgin birth, but don’t let it end there. Remember that Christ came into this world to rescue sinners from hell and to deliver them to eternal life. This isn’t about a baby in a manger; it is about the God of the universe coming to save his people from sin and death. So yes, remember the reason for the season! Remember why Christ came and what it means for the rest of our lives, not just our holidays. 

Be Generous. 

When we stop and remember the reason, we must be reminded of all that Christ did for us. Before we came to know Christ, we were lost and hopeless. We could never 

achieve a right standing before God, we were doomed to Hell, but once Christ came into the picture our story changed quite dramatically. We went from rebels to sons and daughters, from enemies to heirs, and none of it was based on our own achievements. It was a gift from Christ. As Romans 6:23 reminds us: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Our sins earned us the wages of death, but Christ gives us the gift of eternal life. There is no better gift we can receive. 

As Christians we have received the greatest gift anyone could hope for in this life. We have received something more valuable than the riches of the world or the cure to cancer; we have received a right relationship with God. Seeing as we have received the greatest gift we should be ready to give as well. 

This year as you reflect on your blessings, the greatest of which is salvation, be sure to pass some blessings onto others. Donate some toys to kids without families, give the extra five dollars to donate a stuffed animal as you are buying gifts for family, send some money to a good cause, serve the needy in your community, do whatever you can to love and serve others in need this Christmas season. Be generous to others as you reflect on how generous the Lord has been to you. 

Share the Gospel. 

Give the gift of the gospel too. When else are we surrounded with as many lost loved ones for an event that is at its roots based on the Christian faith? Whether they say happy holiday’s or Merry Christmas, they gathered for an event that celebrates the birth of our savior. The good news of Christ is right in front of you ready to be unleashed on lost souls. Just as your personal reflection should not stop at the manger, neither should your outward proclamation stop there either. 

Don’t be scared. Go on and share the message of Christ and him crucified, tell of mankind’s helplessness and of Christ’s mercies, call them to repent and believe. Be missional even in your family gatherings. Don’t be afraid to be shut down or to be made fun of, but fiercely proclaim the good news of the Gospel with the loved ones surrounding you. If you don’t share with your loved ones, who will? Remember Paul’s words in Romans 10:14-15: 

“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” 

Now I am not telling you to jump up on the table right before Christmas dinner, but I am telling you not to let another holiday season go by without sharing the Gospel with a loved one who needs to hear it. Whether it is in light conversation by the fireplace or when you read the birth of Christ with your family. Find a time you are comfortable with, but by no means be silent. As a follower of Christ, we are commanded to share the good news of the Gospel and what better time than a holiday all about the one who came to save. 

Enjoy this holiday season, but don’t waste it. Make it count for your life and in the life of a loved one. Never forget the reason for this season and every other season. Open your heart, open your life, and let God use you this Christmas!

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