Sunday, December 25, 2011

Why is Christmas Special?

I wake before everyone in my house and one of the unintentional benefits to my morning routine is to have some reflective time just to myself.  Today I found myself thinking about something that I overheard a couple days ago.  I was out doing some last minute shopping when I overheard an obviously disenchanted fellow talking with his companion and complaining about the crowds.  I heard him make an offhand comment to the effect of, "I don't even know what's so special about Christmas anyway, it doesn't even feel like Christmas."  And he is a little right at least about the weather out here.  Right now in California, it's in the mid-70s (or about 24 °C) so as people are walking around in shorts and t-shirts, it doesn't really fit the traditional image of a Victorian Christmas.

For Christians, Christmas is a time that we remember Jesus coming to Earth and becoming a man.  But why is this special?  I think the story of Simeon in the Bible explains it well.  About 40 days after Jesus was born, Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to fulfill the Jewish purification rituals.

"And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.  So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:
       'Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
      According to Your word;
       For my eyes have seen Your salvation
       Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
       A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
      And the glory of Your people Israel.'

And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him."

Basically in all the hustle and bustle of Roman occupied Israel, Simeon was a godly man who eagerly waited for the promise of God's salvation to be realized.  When he saw that Jesus had come, his hope was realized.

Jesus came, not to live his life as a perpetual baby to remembered as an infant year after year, but to grow up in to a man and offer his life as a sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world.  When Jesus died, his followers were disillusioned because they weren't looking for a savior for their sin problem, they were seeking a great king who would establish justice and right the wrongs of the world.  But Jesus didn't stay dead, he rose from the dead and promised to return any day now to establish his kingdom of peace.

Jesus is alive and coming back any day now!  Christmas is special in the same way that looking at baby pictures of my own kids is special to me, it helps me remember those precious moments gone by.  More special though are the times spent with my living and real kids.  Jesus is alive and living today.  Why not spend some time with him today and get to know him for who he is?

For those who do know him already, I want to wish you all a very merry Christmas!  And like Simeon, keep watching the skies, he'll be back any day!