For many people, Christmas is one of the most highly anticipated times of the year. Perhaps its the one time we know we’ll be able to get together with our loved ones. Maybe we enjoy buying gifts for friends and family, or love the cozy feeling yuletide decorations can give to our house. Because Christmas can be such a wonderful (and busy!) time of year, it’s often easy to forget that for some it can also be a time of loneliness and sorrow. For those without family and friends, the joy radiated by others at this time of year can serve to heighten the loneliness experienced by people pushed to the christmas margins for many different reasons.
Because Christmas is so strongly linked to family, we often have a difficult time opening up our celebration of Christmas to others who aren’t family. It’s a time, when we’re expected to set aside our other commitments to focus on the strongest of ties that bind.
In the evangelical church, one of the sayings that gets thrown around quite a bit at the time of year is “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Often spoken in reaction to the commercialization and secularization of Christmas, this statement reminds us that we should find Jesus at the centre of our celebration of Christmas.
What lessons should we draw from God’s gift of Jesus that might shape the way we celebrate Christmas? We might suppose, rightly, that in the sending of Jesus, God gave us the greatest gift that could be given. From that we might conclude that it’s a fitting thing to give gifts to others in celebration of Christmas.
If we believe that God created the whole universe from nothing, than no physical object that God could send would actually cost him something. How much would it cost God to snap another iPad, large screen TV or cute little throw pillow into existence with my name on it? Nothing. Instead, God gave us the one thing that would cost him everything: himself.
And not only does God send Jesus (a most extravagant gift) but he sends it to us, humans, alienated from him by our own choice to sin. At Christmas, God sets in motion a plan that will culminate in Good Friday, the greatest display of divine love imaginable. As the apostle Paul points out in his letter to the Romans, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:7-8 NIV).
Christmas is the time when God give of himself for others, for everyone, not on the basis of an already existing relationship, but simply because he is the embodiment of love. The church should bear in mind that if we preach Jesus as the reason for the season, then our actions ought to reflect the radical love that Jesus’ coming to us demonstrates.
This is the reason we’ll be open Christmas day. We all have friends and family we’d like to celebrate with, but at the same time to do so and to leave those without friends and family out in the cold seems inconsistent with the true meaning of Christmas.
“What can I do”, you might ask yourself? Perhaps, if you’re one of our volunteers, you can spare a few and join us at Nightlight on the Christmas day? Or maybe you can find someone who has no one to spend Christmas with and invite them to into your celebration. When we reach out to those in need at this time of year, then we can truly say that “Jesus is the reasons for the season.”