Growing up, my family didn’t attend church very often. But one of the yearly times we did attend was Christmas Eve. It was one of our Christmas traditions. We would go to midnight mass, take in the service and head home to open our presents. This was a yearly tradition we had as a French Roman Catholic family. It was something we looked forward to, the anticipation of the service ending and heading home to find out what we got for our haul that year. The fact that we were up so far past our bedtime with no consequences was a delight as well. And being together as a family and celebrating the Christmas season was always special. It was a highlight of my childhood.
Fast forward a decade and I became a child of divorce and Christmas sharply became something different. Most years it was fine. I still had two loving parents who were doing their best to make this new life work. But many times during that year, we would be reminded that our reality had changed. It could be an old item of my father’s we would find in a box, having to travel between two homes or simply moments when the difficulty of the situation would hit us and it would be hard to find any joy in the season.
This new reality became something of normality in my home and we started to drift into a place where simply stopped celebrating. Now of course we still had Christmas, but as we got older and into our adulthood, we stopped decorating, celebrating, and even giving presents. We basically became Scrooges. I mean, to a certain extent, we were simply being honest with ourselves. We had more bad memories that surrounded recent Christmas holidays than we had good. What we simply wished to focus on was being together, as a family.
Now, my wife’s experience of Christmas was very different growing up. Christmas was a whole month affair. There was as much excitement about decorating for Christmas as there was about the day. Christmas was one of her most anticipated holidays every year. Though Carmen did not grow up in a Christian home, the season always had a special place for them.
Imagine the contrast we had as a married couple when this season came along. Carmen was always so excited and ready to celebrate and I was ready to almost forget the season all together. Add the fact that in my adult life I was either working in management for retail and sales or in ministry. Christmas was such a busy season. It took a while for both of us to understand where the other was coming from. But it wasn’t until we had kids that my motivation to change my perspective about Christmas came.
Though it didn’t change the facts about my experience or past, I consciously made the decision that even though I may have had many bad memories about Christmas, I didn’t want to pass that experience down to my kids. So, we decided to start new family traditions that were unique to us as a family. We wanted to make Christmas special, because it is. Though I had no control about what my Christmases were like, I made the decision not to live in that reality and choose something better for my family and myself.
See, Christmas is truly all about new beginnings, new possibilities, new realities. When the angel appeared to the terrified Shepherds, announcing the birth of Jesus, this is what he said:
Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger. At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises: Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him. (Luke 2:8-14)
This is jam-packed with one of the greatest announcements we find in the history of humanity. Although is difficult to narrow it down to any one thing to focus on, three things jumped out at me when I read this:
Don’t Be Afraid
The angel starts his exclamation with ‘Don’t be afraid”. I could only imagine what it was like to be in the presence of an angelic being, but he reminds them that there is nothing to be afraid of. This only makes me think of the way that God chooses to come to earth... as a baby. That the creator of the entire cosmos becomes as dependent and helpless as a baby. That we have a God who we can relate to, because he is a down to earth kind of God.
I think many of us find it much easier to relate to the person of Jesus than the Father, but a huge part of the Christmas story is all about a reconciling of the lost relationship of humanity and the Father. Ask yourself this question: Can you imagine yourself having coffee with God the Father? Maybe a new Christmas tradition for you this year is seeing God like this. A Father who is approachable, who you could visit and have coffee and share your life with.
Great and Joyful Event
Jesus said that He was the way, the truth and the life. His coming is a such a joyful and great event because He came to show a better way, to set the record straight (both about humanity and who God is) and to bring new life. Jesus’ coming was a great and joyful event because he was shinning new hope into a dark world. He was essentially bringing life into the world and was the life of the party! This is something we can celebrate and exalt because it was the fulfillment of all the promises people were awaiting:. The promise of a better way, truth coming into the world and new life springing forth for His creation. Maybe a new Christmas tradition for you this year is accepting this new life and choosing to see the effects of it all around you.
Meant For Everybody
Notice who the angel announced the good news of Jesus coming to: simple shepherds. Being a shepherd was not exactly an elevated profession, in some cases it was a job that was looked down upon. But why this is so important is that it highlights that Jesus’ coming heralds an invitation for anyone to join the party, that everyone is welcome at the table with God the Father, that everyone is invited to be a part of the family of God. Maybe a new Christmas tradition for you is simply accepting this invitation to join the party, to journey with God the Father and be one who BELONGS, BELIEVES and BECOMES all that God has for you.
Could it be, you need to start a new tradition this Christmas Season? In the same way that I didn’t allow my past to dictate my future traditions with my family, don’t allow your past to dictate what your future holds. God is inviting us all to join his family and wishes to celebrate this Christmas season with you. Will you accept that invitation and start a new tradition this year?
Drake currently serves as the Editor-In-Chief of boldcupofcoffee.com and the Executive Pastor at gateway.ac as well as an avid speaker, writer and leadership coach/consultant at drakedelongfarmer.com.
Drake is passionate about seeing people thrive and come alive. To BELONG, wrestle with what they BELIEVE and BECOME people FULL OF LOVE, FUELLED BY FAITH, and ADDICTED TO HOPE. Drake is also a life learner and loves being challenged to think deeper and grow further. One of his favorite things to do is spend a good amount of time in a good café or coffee shop with a good book or engaging conversation. To be able to share in someone else's journey and experience is always a pleasure and honor. To view more content from Drake, simply click here.
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