What is Christmas all about?
What would your answer be if I were to put forward this question to you directly? What would be the first things to cross your mind?
I bet most of you would be thinking of that big, chubby guy in red who lives up in the North Pole and makes his appearance down everyone’s chimney once a year, bringing with him loads and loads of wonderful presents. You know, the guy who comes riding in a sleigh pulled by reindeers, of whom children all over the world try staying up all night (and end up falling asleep) just to catch a glimpse of his white beard or red coat? Or, to put it in a more realistic sense, the bearded guy in red whose likenesses you commonly see pacing around and bringing cheers to people in shopping malls and public squares during the holiday season?
Oh well, if that’s not the case, then perhaps you might have been thinking of a nice, big Christmas tree, well-decorated and brightly-lighted for the occasion with colourful blinking lights, ornaments and strings of all shapes and sizes. Yes, and not to forget the nice, big, shiny star on the very top to give the tree its finishing look. There, Christmas just can’t be complete without it, right?
Or perhaps you might have been thinking of presents instead. Ah yes, what is Christmas without presents? A period of giving, receiving and sharing; a period when everyone feels jolly and happy; a period when everyone looks forward to that big morning when presents of all colours and sizes adorn the bottom of the Christmas tree, waiting to be opened by their addressees. And the look on the children’s faces when they rip open their presents to discover what they have been yearning for all year long! (or when they see something they don’t really fancy…). The joy, the laughter and the merriment of the occasion…what can be better than these?
Well, if these were what you would have thought about if I were to ask you the question above, then you are right! After all, Christmas is about giving, receiving and sharing what we have. It’s a period of happiness, merriment and laughter, when everyone feels the warmth of each other’s company and the joy of seeing a smile on each other’s faces. It’s a time for reunion, a time for caring and a time for forgiving. A time that comes only once a year, of which everyone eagerly looks forward to.
Nevertheless, amidst all the jolliness and merriment of the season, very often do we seem to forget the true story that lies behind and forms the very reason why we celebrate this wonderful holiday. We often tend to think, “Well, Christmas is a season of sharing and forgiving. It’s a season of giving and receiving, where we learn to love, care for and forgive one another. That’s why we celebrate this wonderful day with merriment and joy together!”
Regardless of what you may think Christmas is all about, permit me to just share with you a story that reflects the true meaning of Christmas. Indeed, this wonderful day wouldn’t even come into existence if it wasn’t for this beautiful and meaningful story. Well, here goes!
There was once a great king who ruled a vast kingdom full of riches. He had everything he needed and enjoyed everything he wanted in the luxury of his palace. He had servants as numerous as an army, unendingly attending to his everyday needs, and capable ministers to run the daily affairs of his kingdom. He was at the zenith of power, and all his subjects feared him, for he had the might and resolve to instantly destroy anyone who spoke a word against him.
The king, however, was in love with a humble peasant girl in his country. It was love at first sight, and he knew that he loved this girl very much from the first moment he saw her. His heart was melted by his love for her, but he knew that he could not declare his love for her openly. He wanted her to love him for who he was, and not because of anything that he had.
He knew that as a fearsome king, his position prevented him from winning her love purely. What if he were to bring her into his palace and crown her head with jewels and clothed her in royal robes? Surely she would not resist – no one dared to resist him. But would she love him? Of course she would say she loved him, but would she truly? Or would she live with him in fear, nursing a private grief for the life she had left behind? Would she be happy at his side? How could he know for sure?
He knew that if he were to ride to her humble dwelling in his royal carriage with an armed escort waving bright banners, that too would overwhelm her with fear. He did not want a cringing subject. He wanted a lover, an equal, someone who could see him with an equal standing. He wanted her to forget that he was a king and she a humble peasant. He wanted to let shared love cross the gulf between them, for it is only in love that the unequal can be made equal.
The king, convinced that he could not elevate the girl without crushing her freedom, resolved to descend to her level. He clothed himself as a beggar and approached her cottage with a worn cloak fluttering loose about him. This was not just a disguise – the king took on a totally new identity. He had renounced his throne to declare his love for her and to win hers.
Indeed, the king had made a daring and risky choice. He gambled his throne in order to win the humble peasant’s hand, not knowing how she would actually respond to him. She might have loved him in return or she might have rejected him and sent him away, and he would lose her love forever! But that’s a picture of the choice that the Almighty God gave us, and that, of course, reflects what Christmas is actually all about.
The Almighty God, who sits on His throne in heaven, humbled Himself in order to win our love. Not knowing how we might respond, He willingly gave up His position and riches, and came down to our midst in the form of a baby. He humbled Himself, rendered Himself of no reputation, and came to be born in this world into a poor family, under poverty-stricken circumstances, all to win our love. This is the true story of Christmas: God in a manger, God found in a form that no one could possibly fear.
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom His favour rests."
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.”
The Gospel According to Luke 2: 8 - 16
And today, we celebrate Christmas to commemorate the birthday of this wonderful baby – the best Christmas present anyone can ever have, the Lord Jesus Christ!
LORD JESUS CHRIST LOVES YOU!!!