Are We Celebrating Xmas or Christmas?

As the Advent season begins, I have been reminded that the way Christians celebrate Christmas should look different than the way others celebrate Christmas. I think we might be missing out.

If Christ was removed from the way we celebrate Christmas, would the change be obvious? In our hearts? To the outside observer?

I would answer a hesitant yes. While not going to church would be strange, the other changes would be minimal. A few songs would be missing from my Christmas playlist. Our family would not read the Christmas story together, sing hymns, or display the nativity set.

In my opinion, the change should be dramatic. But what should our celebration look like? Well, what does it look like now? Many of us enjoy four aspects of Christmas celebration: family time, beautiful decor, gifts, and Christmas music.

These aspects are good. Let's not get so caught up in the celebration that we forget what we are celebrating.
  1. Family time is a glimpse into eternity. By coming to earth and giving his life, Christ ransomed people "from every tribe and language and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9). We get to worship with those people forever! Let's make sure to celebrate Christ with them.
  2. Christmas decor can be beautiful. God is the Creator of beauty. Have you looked at nature lately? God could have made cold, formless lumps of moisture fall from the sky. Instead, He created intricately designed snowflakes. If you forgot how amazing snowflakes are, look at these close-up photos. May snowflakes and other Christmas decorations remind us of our Creator. Let's choose decorations that point to Him.
  3. Gifts provide joy for the giver and the recipient. May they also remind us of the ultimate Giver: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change" (James 1:17). May we give generously and receive gratefully. 
  4. Christmas music puts us in "the holiday spirit." It reaches in a way that nothing else can. We can choose songs that point us to Christ or songs that simply point us to the season. Let's not miss out. 
Please do not misunderstand me. I plan to put up a Christmas tree. I will be listening to "White Christmas" and "Deck the Halls" this Christmas. However, I also plan to be more intentional about remembering and pointing to Christ in the celebrations.
"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." 1 Peter 2:9-10
As Christians, our joy should be deeper and our delight more obvious than the rest of the world. Psalm 16:11 tells us that in God's presence "there is fullness of joy" and "pleasures forevermore." As John Piper said, "There's nothing fuller than full, and nothing longer than eternal."* We enter God's presence through and because of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Let's celebrate our Savior joyfully and obviously this season.

How will your family be pointing to Christ this Christmas?

*Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God, (Nottingham: IVP, 2010), p.153