What makes Christmas special? Of course the #1 thing is Christ himself, without whom this year’s Christmas celebration would have no lasting effects beyond the scraps of wrapping paper scattered around the tree and the leftover cookie crumbs on the kitchen floor. But Christ is the gift that keeps on giving. His flawless life and perfect sacrifice cover over all our sins and he will one day give us the gift of eternal life in heaven! Those are priceless gifts that truly last…a lot longer than the batteries in one of those singing Hallmark Christmas cards. Christ makes Christmas special.
But for many people, Christmas is also special because it’s a time to gather with family. That’s a big part of it for me. I’m so thankful for my family. This Monday and Tuesday I’ll be spending time with my family—including also my parents and my sister and her husband for our “Kuerth family Christmas” (Since my brother-in-law is also a pastor it just doesn’t work to have Christmas on Christmas for us!).
Yet one thing I’m learning every year is that sin stains even the best families. You know what I mean. Because of sin, holidays for some people can be downright nasty. Some families look forward to seeing each other only to end up disappointed. Some families don’t look forward to seeing each other because conflict and drama is inevitable. Instead of family joy, they find jealousy. Instead of Christmas cheer, they find contentious arguments. How sad that sin robs families of the joy of being together!
You may not even notice it anymore, but when I greet people before worship here at Victory of the Lamb, I usually say, “Since we come together as a church family…” Like most families, we’ve got people with different personalities, different political views, different problems, different sins. And so I suppose someone might reasonably wonder, “If I have to put up with that in my own family, why would I do that also in a church family?”
But there’s a difference. As a church family we recognize how we’ve all fallen short of God’s glory. Me too. We recognize how Christ alone makes us whole. And despite our differences, through baptism we’ve all been claimed by God as his dear children. Though by nature we were all once enemies of God, now by God’s grace we are brothers and sisters in Christ! As Christ loved us, we now get to love each other, encourage each other, and help each other grow closer to Christ.
Dear brothers and sisters, may Jesus Christ bless you and our church family with true joy and peace this Christmas week.