I am one of those people who waits to decorate for Christmas and listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. No matter how much I love the bright lights and the festive fun, I try not to divide my celebration between Thanksgiving and Christmas. But once my decorations are out, I always want to leave them up. Twenty-five days seems to fly by at the speed of light like no other month.
Now, let’s pretend I decided to take all the Christmas decorations and halt all celebratory happenings on December seventeenth. “What?!” you’d say. “Why? Why would you do that?” Can anyone really exhaust their enjoyment of their celebration of the Savior, too early?
Don’t choke on your eggnog. My decorations are still in tact and we’re still singing carols around our Jesse Tree while talking about Jesus’ coming. However, I should confess that for years I’ve stopped short and packed up my celebration too early.
Looking Past the Manger Scene
For most of my life I’ve looked at Christmas as a time to celebrate the Savior’s birth. Our Little People nativity set is centered around the stable with smiling parents gathered round a peaceful babe in the hay. All of our nativity sets are: shepherds, wise men, camels, sheep, donkeys, they gaze at the manger. They all remind us of a story very important to our faith. It was here in the cradle God fulfilled His promise to provide a Savior for the world.
In The Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd Jones writes of the shepherds visit:
“They caught their breath. Then quietly, they tiptoed inside. The knelt on the dirt floor. They had heard about this Promised Child and now he was here. Heaven’s Son. The Maker of the Stars. A baby sleeping in his mother’s arms. This baby would be like that bright star shining in the sky that night. A Light to light up the whole world. Chasing away darkness. Helping people to see.”
This baby was special. He is worthy of celebrating. But while I love my Little People nativity and all the others I’ve collected over the years, they don’t teach the whole story. Isaiah prophesied of more than just the Savior’s birth. To fully celebrate the reality of Christmas I must consider more than that fateful starry night; I must also consider the day the sun stood still and the coming day when the skies will burst open.
Beholding the Fullness
The Gospel invites us to celebrate more than just Jesus’s birth each Christmas. The reality that Mary cradled God’s promise to Israel in her arms assures us that one day soon we too will touch and hold our own redemption. Jesus has come, but he is also coming again. We celebrate the birth because we know the precious soft-skinned baby would one day be bleeding, bruised, and broken. Our salvation has been secured by this tiny son turned Savior. While the manger places Jesus in the hay, the full story places him on a cross and ultimately an empty tomb. Stopping in the birth narrative celebrates half of Christmas – don’t do it.
This year, take your celebration all the way through scripture. tells us when Jesus comes again he will create new heavens and a new earth in which there will be no more weeping or distress but instead joy and gladness forever. When Jesus comes back we will put away our idols (), He will swallow up death forever and take away all our reproach(Is. 25:8). “It will be said on that day, ‘Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation (Is. 25:9).’”
As surely as the King has come, His Kingdom is coming too. Celebrate all of Christmas; embrace the fullness of God’s plan through both the coming of Christ and the eventual return.
Today I’m over at The Gospel Coalition sharing about 3 Christmas Pitfalls for Parents. I hope you’ll click on over, read, and be encouraged! You might also benefit from reading a past Christmas post that freshly convicted me this morning – Too Busy for Christmas.
17 “For behold, I create new heavens
and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
or come into mind. (ESV)
20 In that day mankind will cast away
their idols of silver and their idols of gold,
which they made for themselves to worship,
to the moles and to the bats, (ESV)