A heavenly bright light shines from behind a small manger.

Whew, what a year! We couldn’t wait to get past the election and all of its stress and strife. Maybe the holidays will be better, we thought. Maybe people will be nicer, we hoped. Then came Thanksgiving with the in-laws. Surely another helping of pumpkin pie will cure all that ails us.

Now as Black Friday turns into another Monday and the calendar and the world turn the page to December complete with headlines blaring about school violence, election recounts, and dictator passings, one has to wonder, should we bother to pull out the tinsel and garland or just fast-forward to the New Year?

Do we really need another Christmas? We sing the same songs, put up the same tree, and shop for the same socks and sweaters every year. Is the message of peace on earth, good will toward men still relevant? Still possible?

Consider the story behind Christmas. Hollywood would recast Christmas. Joseph’s collar is way too blue. Mary is green from inexperience. The couple’s star power doesn’t match the bill. Too obscure. Too simple. The story warrants some headliners. A square-jawed Joseph. Someone of the Clooney vintage. And Mary needs a beauty mark and glistening teeth. Angelina Jolie-ish. And what about the shepherds? Do they sing? If so, perhaps Bono and U2?

Do we really need another Christmas? We sing the same songs, put up the same tree, and shop for the same socks and sweaters every year. Is the message of peace on earth, good will toward men still relevant? Still possible?

Hollywood would recast the story.

A civilized person would sanitize it. No person, however poor, should be born in a cow stall. Hay on the floor. Animals on the hay. Don’t place the baby in a feed trough; the donkey’s nose has been there. Don’t wrap the newborn in rags. They smell like sheep. Speaking of smells, watch where you step.

A good public relations firm would move the birth to a big city. See what Roman palaces they might rent, what Greek villas they could lease. The Son of God deserves a royal entry. Less peasant, more pizzazz. Out with the heads of sheep, in with the heads of state. Shouldn’t we ticker tape this event? Maybe throw in a little Trump Tower escalator entrance.

But we didn’t design the hour. God did. And God was content to enter the world in the presence of sleepy sheep and a wide-eyed carpenter. No spotlights, just candlelight. No crowns, just cows chewing cud.

God made so little of his Son’s coming. No hoopla at his birth. Is this a mistake?

Or is this the message?

Perhaps our world, and your life, resembles a Bethlehem stable. Crude in some spots, smelly in others. Not much glamour. Not always neat. People in your circle remind you of stable animals: grazing like sheep, stubborn like donkeys, and that cow in the corner looks a lot like the fellow next door.

The moment Mary touched God’s face is the moment God made his case: there is no place he will not go. If he is willing to be born in a barnyard, then expect him to be at work anywhere— bars, bedrooms, boardrooms, and brothels. No place is too common. No person is too hardened. No distance is too far. There is no person he cannot reach. There is no limit to his love. When Christ was born, so was our hope.

Actually, I think we need Christmas more than ever this year.

We could use a season that is dedicated to giving, not receiving; to caring, not critiquing. Put away our differences. Put up the Christmas tree. Take comfort in the familiar story and the ancient carols. Our world, like that of Bethlehem, is difficult and crowded. Our days can feel as cold and uncertain as that midnight manger. Yet, in the midst of it all, let’s do what Mary did. Let’s invite the source of peace to enter our world. Let’s find hope, once more, in the infant King.

God became one of us so we could become one with him. That is the promise of Bethlehem.

© Max Lucado, December 2016

 

10 comments on “Do We Really Need Christmas This Year?

  1. Max brings a ‘still, small voice to the ‘insanity’ of our times, reminding us, that as far as Creator-GOD is concerned, ‘IT’S ALL GOOD’!!! Gratefully,

  2. That’s great… Yes we need Christmas, yes we need that same familiar life changing story. O hoho, we need it in other to be reminded of how God brought down His temple into our midst. Oh, how lucky we are?

  3. There is only one light of hope in the wasteland – this dark world: the star of Bethlehem. Emanuel! Light up a candle and celebrate HIS Birth once more.
    And every other day: that star will shine – It is always inside you. Christmas Blessings!

  4. Vintage Max – reminding us of the real reason for the season: God’s love for the world, given in a way only He could orchestrate, through His Son, the Lord Jesus. May His Name be Praised forever.

  5. The Beauty of Christmas is More

    It’s more than the glitter of Christmas trees
    Or the holiday lights in the city
    It’s more than the wreaths upon the doors
    Or the nick-knacks quaint and pretty

    It’s more than the lovely Christmas songs
    Or those holiday movies sincere
    It’s more than the jingle of the bells
    This special time of year

    It’s more than the poinsettias upon the tables
    Or those stockings hung with care
    It’s more than the shoppers in the stores
    Or those Santaǯs always there

    It’s more than those solemn manger scenes
    Or the celebrations and gatherings to adore
    The beauty of Christmas is mystical
    Yes, it is definitely something more

  6. Yes, we do need Christmas this year! And Max put into words what Christmas is all about. So many people forget the true meaning of Christmas and sadly, many don’t even know the true meaning of Christmas. Thank you Max, for this wonderful reminder of God’s promise and His plan for our salvation.

  7. Thank you Max. In a world seemingly gone to the “dogs”, your words touch the true pure essence of the Christmas message. Peace in our hearts and gratitude to our one constant – God Himself!

  8. Thank you Max,
    Indeed I searched to find what the message of Christmas is for my grandchildren, especially. Your question above and your answer given satisfies my search. It is left for each of us to remember the birth of the Christ Child and tell it again and again…
    It is a message of love, peace and a miracle working God! Each of these is a precious and vivid demonstration of the glorious God we serve.
    The world crisis num our senses and we are in danger of forgetting we still celebrate the coming of Christ in Christmas and have great hope…

Comments are closed.