So many people get ‘wrapped up’ in Christmas and talk about their feelings at this time of the year – generosity, festivities, goodwill, warmth, family, gratitude. Many say, “the world’s in a bad state so let’s have a little more Christmas spirit, let’s all try to be a little nicer at this time of the year, let’s smile at the person on the bus, let’s not growl at the nice girl behind the desk. After all, it’s Christmas”.
Nothing wrong with that. We could all do with a little more kindness and a lot less harshness. But if that’s all it is, then it is in danger of becoming just entirely subjective and personal. When people talk about how it makes them feel and how they hope to behave then they miss one important fact - Christmas is first and foremost something OBJECTIVE, not SUBJECTIVE. It is HISTORY not PHILOSPHY. It is FACT, not FEELING.
Paul said, “For the grace of God HAS APPEARED that brings salvation to all men” (Titus 2 v11). That was it. HAS appeared. The appearing. God has done something in history. He has acted. Man was lost in sin and darkness and no amount of feeling or different spirit or attempt to change behaviour would help. God acted because he had to. There really was a virgin, there really was Joseph, there was an actual birth, there was Herod, there were shepherds and there were Magi. There really were. FACT. These were not fictional characters in some made up legend – a created, simple and beautiful story - but actual, real, historical, flesh and blood figures, who lived and breathed and eventually died like the rest of mankind.
We are in grave danger in 21stC society of losing the real historical basis of the Christmas message. Secularists play around with it as if it can be put in the same category as Cinderella, Toy Story or It’s a Wonderful Life. “We love the characters but we know they are not real!”. “It’s a shame Christians peddle this story every year, we’re past that now”. Really? Might as well dismiss the founding of the USA, the world wars or the sinking of the Titanic as fiction. He has spoken. He really has. And grace has appeared – only when we have grasped that, can our behaviour really be changed forever by the wonderful Babe of Bethlehem.