December 17, 2018 by Amy Shatrick
Growing up I was unfamiliar with the idea of celebrating the birth of Jesus on December 25. My memories of the Christmas season include various secular traditions such as decorating a tree, watching tv shows like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman,” and decorating sugar cookies with my siblings and mom. I was fascinated by the different types of food colorings and nonpareil candies. Mom is a fun baker and she let us have lots of creative input. One year she let us cut our hand shapes from the dough and decorate them. How fun to put painted nails and jewelry on my sugar cookie hand!
Even the cookie hands, though, were surpassed by the excitement of decorating the tree. My parents would bravely pack the five siblings into all of our winter gear, load us into the car, and head to a local tree lot to wander the endless aisles of emerald shrubbery. They looked so huge in the light given off from the bulbs hanging overhead. The chosen specimen was usually stocky and very fat. I think it was my mom who liked how the chubby ones looked after they warmed up. Once home, my dad would venture into the attic and pull down the much-anticipated boxes. I remember being anxious as I watched him, not just because I was anticipating unwrapping the sparkly ornaments, but also because I had a vague memory of someone saying you could fall through the ceiling if you weren’t careful up there.
It seemed to take forever for my dad to put the lights on the tree. As soon as he was finished, the five of us ceremoniously began to create with the eclectic mix of ornaments. When we were a bit older, mom let us put the tinsel on as long as we didn’t “clump” it. Overall, I’d say our trees were lovely, and I spent many hours just staring at the lights and dreaming. How comforting it was to lay under the glowing boughs, smelling the spicy pine tar in the glow of twinkling gems. It felt like the safest place in the world to be curled up under that tree.
One Christmas Eve, years later, sitting in a small church’s evening service, I had the most amazing thought come to my mind. We celebrate Christmas to commemorate the birth of Jesus. What?!? On this particular night, the story came alive to me. It wasn’t about Rudolph and Frosty or decorating cookies and trees. I realized that Christmas was miraculous. The fact that God had poured Himself into a human form to live a perfect life so that He could pay the penalty for our sins changed my heart forever. He was hung on a tree–not a glowing, decorated, beautiful tree, but a loathsome wooden cross (1 Peter 2:24). How did I miss it? No wonder I had never really understood Christmas. I felt as if I had discovered something new. My blind eyes were opened. It isn’t decorative lights on our Christmas trees that matter, but it is Jesus, the Light of the World (John 1:1-13), who came as a baby, lived a sinless life, died for all of mankind, and then was resurrected on the third day! I sat stunned that I had never connected Christmas to the cross of Christ.
When the Holy Spirit revealed the connections to me, and then later added the news about Jesus’ future coming (Rev 22:12-13), I was elated. What hope! What joy! The newness of my Christian faith was swaddled in the protective love of the Holy Spirit, and He was grounding me in His truth that would prepare me for the battles ahead (Ephesians 6:11-18). I will never forget that night bathed in the soft lights of the church’s Christmas decor and the love and light of My Savior, Jesus, the Bright and Morning Star (Revelation 22:16).
Pray with me.
We praise You for Your amazing plan to save mankind from eternal death.You are so creative and beautiful. Will You please be with the ones who are suffering at this time of year? Please bring the Truth of Your eternal love to their hearts. I ask that You bless the reader with joyous peace and rest in the fact that You love them and have made a way for them.
In Jesus’s Name,