Every year Christmas is celebrated across the globe as one of the most important Christian festivals commemorating the blessed birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem some two thousand years ago.
Massive amounts of money are squandered on putting up Christmas trees, Christmas lights, decorations, sending Christmas cards and buying Christmas presents.
The feverish Christmas euphoria deflates when we receive the first credit card bill. Christmas becomes one of the most expensive times of the year as we feel pressured to spend money on a variety of things to ensure that our Christmas spending outshines others.
An online poll the mental health charity Mind found that respondents were stressed and anxious about repaying their Christmas spending. Their findings were that
- 19 per cent of people felt less able to manage their mental health because of worries about paying off the cost of Christmas
- 25 per cent were feeling depressed
- 20 per cent will have problems meeting their rent or mortgage payments this month.
- Over 50 per cent admitted they had spent more than they could afford on Christmas.
- 39 per cent used credit cards to cover the cost of Christmas.
- 33 per cent estimated that it would take them more than six months to pay off their Christmas spending debt
Ironically the passion of Christmas runs high without the passion of Christ. Christmas without Christ is a tradition without feelings and emotions.
In 2011 the Daily Mail carried out a survey of 6,576 Christmas cards in seven locations of major supermarkets in England and Wales which resulted in that only 36 cards featured nativity scenes or angels. So only 0,5% of all Christmas cards available show the traditional, religious meaning of Christmas.
I am afraid we have reduced Christmas to a yearly exercise in retail spending.
It would be far better if we celebrated the birth of Christ every year with a religious conviction deep down in our hearts.
I wonder why the humble birth of the King of Kings in a manger does not prompt us to help the poor, the oppressed and the persecuted.
A little monetary sacrifice by us at this time of year could bring relief to many living in wretched poverty in the UK and abroad.
According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) it is estimated that around 925 million out of a world population of 7 billion are suffering hunger which is 13.1 percent or almost 1 in 7 people.
Malnourished children account for around 5 million deaths a year – while a pie worth £3,000 is put on display Exchange Shopping Centre in London on 17th of December 2011.
Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem brought change in the lives of the people amongst whom He lived, walked and preached. He lived as a common man of Israel, feeding the hungry, healing the sick and proclaiming the message for good news of His Love, Compassion and Mercy. He lived Christmas every day.
How can we bring the spirit of Christmas into our lives every day? Let us not celebrate Christmas without Christ but with His spirit of love, joy and kindness.
We tend to miss the message of Christmas and celebrate Christmas as part of a tradition rather than the message of God’s boundless love and promise to mankind. The Savoir was sent to liberate the whole of mankind from man’s original sin in the Garden of Eden.
The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were like us, they claimed to keep the Law of Moses but missed Jesus in His day and took him to the Cross. Oddly enough, we tend to behave like Pharisees and Scribes, who tend to miss the whole point of Jesus coming and the message of Christ coming into this world.
The King of Kings and Prince of world was born in a lowly Bethlehem manger that was attended by the Shepherds and Magi.
Those who came to celebrate His birth knew who He was. They came to kneel before the innocent baby lying in the manger with Joseph and Mary at his side. The visitors welcomed Jesus by opening the manger of their hearts. They were exuberant and elated at the news of Jesus’ birth.
The whole point is that Jesus came into this world for the whole mankind but only few came to welcome Him in His manger.
The Great men of Jesus’ Day, Religious Authority and Political establishment all missed Jesus ‘birth.
The wise men who recognized God’s message and came to hail the baby King found treasure greater than Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh ( Matt 2: 11). They found Jesus – The promised Messiah, the Prince of Peace and the Savior of the world.
Where is the Manger to find Jesus? Where can I find Jesus now?
The manger is your heart. Christmas is an opportunity to invite Jesus to dwell in our hearts. He would love to abide in our hearts.
The joy of finding and recognizing Jesus is ever greater. Bible records shepherds’ visit to Jesus’ Manger in Bethlehem as life changing experience full of joy, praise and thanksgiving (Luke 2:20). I think they would have shared this life experience of finding Jesus from this point onwards.
I believe we like the wise men and the shepherd need to recognize Jesus first and then to welcome Him into our hearts to celebrate His coming into this torn apart world. We must meet Him. He of course does not want us to bring Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh to Him but all He wants us is to welcome Him in our hearts as this act of ours will transform us and make us a new creation in Him.
Christmas with Christ is the beginning of a happy, transforming and everlasting life while Christmas without Christ will be a short-lived seasonal festival.
We should remember the lowly, meek and humble birth in a manger in Bethlehem. His birth could have been announced with spectacular pomp and show by God to proclaim the birth of His only Son’s birth to the world. He kept it on a low key. A silent night with a twinkling star and a royal babe is placed into a simple manger. The only King whose birth was so kept silent and humble.
Do you carry Jesus in the manger of your heart?
Your heart is His Manger. He would love to be born again in your heart if you allow Him. You do not need to celebrate Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.
Amidst the whirlpool of financial crisis, global unrest, unemployment, war, bloodshed, hunger, terrorism, our hopes are fixed on Jesus, Our Blessed Savior whose birth has changed the whole landscape of human history – bridging the hearts of man back to the heart of God with the hope to bring a New Heaven and New Earth.
Christ´s birth heralds the new beginning: Will you bring Christmas into your life every day?