Genesis 22:8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
This whole story is foundational to the salvation narrative in a number of ways. This verse specifically prefigures Christmas, because that was when God provided His Son, the Lamb for the offering. He would live and grow for over 30 years after his birth, but His fate was settled from before His birth. The Christmas story is perhaps almost too familiar, and we lose the impact of what God did. That God would love us so much is still outrageous on the face of it, but we have let it become a truism and take it for granted. In America in particular Christmas has become a commercial frenzy, to the point that I have little if any interest in visiting at that time of year. In Japan they are picking up on the commercial end of things, tying it to their traditional New Year’s celebrations, without the any foundation of faith in society as a whole at all. Churches have a huge challenge, as well as opportunity, at this time of year. Many schedule baptisms for Christmas, if they have any recent converts, and Christmas music is common as BGM in stores, though secular tunes predominate. The point is, the average Japanese has little if any grasp of what Christmas is about, much less that it has any connection whatsoever to them. That is the challenge: making the connection. Sadly, Americans are rapidly becoming equally disconnected from the true meaning of Christmas. Those who know that meaning need to let it pervade and motivate them, so that the Good News of what God did over 2000 years ago would penetrate into more and more hearts, changing lives and so changing society, for salvation for mankind and glory for God.
I have had a growing tendency toward burnout at Christmas over the years, perhaps reaching a peak this year because of multiple circumstances. (At least I hope it doesn’t get worse!) It is a real challenge to focus on the glorious meaning behind all the things that are too familiar. I recognize the spiritual battle, because I am surrounded by people who have no idea what it is all about, which presents me with all sorts of opportunities to share in one way or another. I need to let the Holy Spirit renew the wonder and joy of Christmas in my own heart so that I won’t be lax in sharing it with others. I realize full well the history of when and how we celebrate, recognizing that there is very little Biblical underpinning for most of it, but at the same time the basic fact that God loved us enough to become a human baby is more than worth celebrating, and needs to be communicated as broadly and as effectively as possible. I need a fresh infusion of the Holy Spirit for that purpose!
Father, thank You for the church Christmas activities that are opportunities for outreach, and that I’ll be having two school class Christmas parties in which I’ll be able to present the true story of Christmas. I pray that I would not draw back from any of it, but let Your Spirit, Your power infill me and carry me along, so that what comes through is You and not me, drawing people to You for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!