Five things Luke’s Gospel tells us about Christmas


Lady_ChristmasChristmas can be imperfectly beautiful

We all want our Christmas to go perfectly well. Whether we are travelling overseas, hosting family for a meal or simply spending the day with a friend. In our minds we hope that all things go according to plan and it turns out to be perfect, and sometimes it indeed goes very well. However, when it does not quite work out the way we want, we get the Christmas blues.

We are quick to forget that the first Christmas was not what we would call perfect and yet it was in God’s eyes. Joseph and an expectant Mary travelled through Bethlehem and could not find a decent place to spend the night. When they did find some shelter it was one meant for domestic animals. Christ was born essentially in a feeding trough. But this did not prevent the angels from singing “glory to God in the highest…” (Luke 2:14). Neither did it stop the shepherds from proclaiming with great joy what they had heard, nor did it prevent the wise men (we will borrow from Matthew’s Gospel a bit) from presenting gifts to the young king.

Let’s look at it now from our perspective. The humble nativity is now celebrated as a symbol of Christmas worldwide. The shepherds, angels and wise men have given the Christmas story a beauty and timelessness it would never have had if all things had been “perfect”. The message is clear: put God into your imperfect Christmas and he will make it beautiful regardless.

God is drawn to the humble

In Bethlehem there were men of high standing: leaders, priests, rabbis and the wealthy. However the first group of people to receive the news of Christ’s birth was the shepherds. These men were quite low among the classes of society at that time. God cares about those considered insignificant and yet have a heart for him. We could say the same about Mary, the young woman could not understand why Gabriel called her “highly favored” (Luke 1:28), but God likes to exalt the humble.

We are challenged to humble ourselves regardless of how much wealth, success or social standing we may have. Let us learn from the wise men who were princes from the east. They followed the star until they found their king. They then all bowed down and presented gifts. The regal dress and wealth they had did not stop them from humbly submitting to the child.

Christ should be the center of celebration

The first Christmas was all about Christ. The birth of this savior child was the reason for rejoicing and the angels sang in the night to mark this ever so important day. Today however it is fair to say that in most homes, people are not really thinking about why we celebrate.

Imagine a scenario where there’s a party to mark your birthday but they celebrate without you. Everyone talks about how they feasted and had a good time but no one seems to mind that you were absent. You would say they do not really care about you right? So how much do we really care about Christ?

Each of us should give something

On the first Christmas we all got the greatest gift possible: the son of God. In him was eternal life, peace, joy and everything we would ever need to have a good life on earth. He was God’s most valued ‘possession’ he could not give us anything better. The theme of gifting continues with the wise men who brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to the young king.

It is no coincidence that the spirit of giving at Christmas has continued for over two thousand years since then. It was God’s intention to encourage us to give because he knows there are always those in need. So this Christmas if you can, give to someone less fortunate. If you are not in position to give much then give little. Let someone know they are loved and God will not forget it.

Christ should be our source of joy

As I mentioned at the beginning, sometimes Christmas is not perfect. We may be going through a difficult time in a season when many are celebrating. If you happen to be in such a situation do not forget that prayer can be powerful.

Let us also remember that the best gift of Christmas is a deep-rooted joy that no material gifts can bring. It can only come when we keep our focus on Christ.