Let’s Just Cancel Christmas in 2021
By: Gordon Dasher
Let’s just cancel Christmas this year! Not to be overly provocative, but we might as well. Think about it. For one thing, supply chain issues are going to keep our kiddies’ stockings bare. And to top it off, Dr. Fauci is threatening to cancel everyone’s family holiday gatherings.
Oh, well! It was fun while it lasted, right?
While that seems to be the consensus among some of my well-intentioned friends, I have a different view, and it has nothing to do with the consumerism that Wall Street has convinced us is what this holiday season is all about. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that we are long overdue for a holiday reset anyhow. What began as a simple celebration of the coming of the Messiah has degenerated into a commercial nightmare for a lot of folks. Just spend way past your credit limits in order to see your loved ones jump for glee over “presents” that will be the fodder for next year’s garage sale. That’s what Christmas has become for many.
Too bad! What could be an opportunity to celebrate the greatest story ever told has become almost completely about the consumption of stuff … stuff that will become useless and obsolete before we really have time to enjoy it. Think about it! The one who is worthy is replaced by what is essentially worthless.
So, let me remind you of what you already know. It’s good to be reminded from time to time, right? Just so we can do a hard reset on life – to get our priorities in order? Fortunately, the story that sets everything back upright is so simple, we can tell it in a few short points.
WE HAVE MADE A MESS OF THINGS!
Since sin was introduced to the planet, our default position has been to choose self-reliance over reliance on God. This is the root of all that is wrong with us. Murder, rape, racism, alcohol and drug abuse, pedophilia, divorce, and every other “crime” is rooted in our rejection of God’s authority. Our problem is that we are all guilty. The Bible says that “All have sinned and come short of the Glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
GOD CAME TO LIVE WITH US
Sin has one universal symptom – once it infects us and becomes septic in our hearts, we become filled with a very real sense that all is hopeless. But because we are the objects of God’s affections, he did the unthinkable – he became just like one of his creatures so that this hopelessness could be replaced by hope. Hundreds of years before the birth of the Messiah, Isaiah foretold of God’s coming to live with mankind. “’The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means “God with us”).” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23)
GOD IN A MANGER
We are tempted to view the Christmas story as a narrative about a helpless baby in a feed trough. The Christ child was all of that, for sure. It’s part of the wonder of the Advent – that God would humble himself and enter his creation as a breastfeeding, pooping, peeing little baby. Talk about vulnerable! This is the amazing thing about the Advent – a universe-, star-, and planet-breathing God would subject himself to the humility of being vulnerable to the political and physical forces of the world he himself created. However, in order to get a glimpse of exactly who that person in the manger was (other than a baby), I find it helpful to see him for how he is now – the crucified and risen second member of the Trinity – the son of God – our Messiah. He is the one John encountered in Revelation chapter five:
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation…Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”
The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
This God, the one in a manger, the God who is the all-powerful creator of all that exists, he did the inconceivable – he gave it all up so that we could hope again. And the hope that he restored is much more than the hope that is like what we wish for when we buy lottery tickets. In that case, we have a one-in-millions chance of becoming wealthy. No, the hope that God restored in coming to be one of us is a confident hope. It is a hope that we can count on.
But there’s more good news! The baby in the manger was the glorified lamb in Revelation chapter five, but he was also the father in the story of the rebellious son in Luke fifteen. You remember the story, don’t you? The son takes off to a foreign land and squanders all of the inheritance money his father had given him? And when he had come to the end of his rope, he reasoned that perhaps he could return to the very same father he had rebelled against by offering to work as a hired hand on his father’s farm. He knew he could no longer be his son. The only problem was the father didn’t want a servant – he wanted his son. He still does.
So, we have a baby, a fierce lamb that was the object of all of heaven’s praise, and a loving father – all in one – in the manger. That’s who he was, that baby. He came to save his people from their sins, but he also came to reveal the true nature of a mighty, holy, loving, and compassionate God – one who is eager to restore hope to the hopeless.
This is the Christmas story – a story that goes against anything mankind could ever think up on his own. If we were to invent a god, he would be like us, requiring his subjects to climb the ladder of human effort in the faint hope that somehow, maybe, he could be reached. But our God? The God above all gods? He came to visit us instead. Praise his name!
The good news of Christmas 2021 is that there is no supply chain issue in the kingdom of God. And even better, there’s no social distancing or any executive order restraining celebrations in the family of God. The news outlets of the world can try and pour cold water on the Advent of the Messiah, but in our Father’s newspaper, the headline reads:
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Celebrate Advent! Celebrate Christmas like you’ve never celebrated before! Proclaim it loudly: Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let heaven and nature sing!