This is an especially joyful time of year for most people. We have just spent time celebrating Thanksgiving, and now we look forward to commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
One way we celebrate this time of year is with holiday meals and special treats. I have a tendency to overeat just a bit during the holiday season. I know that I need to cut back, because yesterday I cut myself shaving, and instead of blood, gravy trickled down my cheek!
So what do we do between Thanksgiving and Christmas? Besides getting our stretchy pants out of the closet! Here are a few suggestions.
First, we can be generous. After all, God loved us so much that he gave us his only Son Jesus to die for us on the cross so that we could believe in him and not perish but have eternal life. God is the ultimate Giver. 2 Cor.9:15 says, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”
One way that we can give thanks to God for Jesus is to imitate the generosity of our heavenly Father. We always have the opportunity to give generously to our local church with our tithes and our offerings. We also have other chances to be generous, especially this time of year. There are many worthy projects and organizations that help people to have a better Christmas by providing food and gifts. And most of them do this in the name of Jesus. Since “God loves a cheerful giver” (1 Cor.9:7), let’s try to cultivate a spirit of cheerful generosity that becomes an important part of who we are.
A second way to spend our time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is to extend invitations to people. The gospels give several examples of people inviting others to come and see what Jesus is all about. John the Baptizer encouraged his followers to pay close attention to Jesus, God’s Chosen One, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29-34). After deciding to follow Jesus, the first thing Andrew did was bring his brother Simon Peter to Jesus. Likewise, once Philip chose to follow Jesus he brought Nathanael along also (John 1:40-45). The woman that Jesus encountered at the well in John 4 told her whole village that they needed to come and see what Jesus was all about.
People who are not currently following Jesus sometimes experience a softening of their hearts at Christmastime. They may be more likely to accept an invitation to a worship service, Christmas play, Christmas concert or some other event that promotes Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. We would do well to spend time inviting people to come and listen to the gospel message this Christmas season.
Finally, we need to put Jesus first this holiday season. After all, he is the reason for the season! Ultimately, Christmas is not about the food and festivities. It is all about Jesus—Emmanuel—God with us! He willingly came into this world to give his life as a sacrifice for our sins. The baby Jesus was laid in a manger, but he was destined for the cross! He is Savior and Lord, and therefore we need to give him the attention that he deserves. Sure, there are many distractions this time of year, but let’s keep our focus on Jesus. As the song says, “O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord!”