Why Christmas is Awesome

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. It always has been – from my childhood to now. Christmas is a day to spend with family, to exchange gifts, to eat good food, and to enjoy being together. It is an exciting day, and also a chance to take a break from the daily grind. But, there seems to be a lot of confusion about Christmas these days. What is it all about? Why do we celebrate? Do we call it X-mas or Christmas? Was Jesus really born on December 25th?

For me Christmas is not complicated. As a follower of Christ, it is the day I celebrate his arrival into our world. The whole idea that God would become one of us, to walk among us, and provide a way back to him is amazing. The Bible tells me that Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem to a poor Jewish couple. When I reflect on this story three themes emerge that help explain why I think Christmas is awesome.

1. Christ’s birth is unpretentious. He is born in a stable to unknown parents. Sure the angels sing, the shepherds worship, and the wise men provide gifts. But, let’s face it. We would write a different story. Jesus is the Son of God. Doesn’t he deserve the best of everything. I would have him arrive as a rich, smart, and strong man in Rome. Not a helpless child. I certainly would not trust the Son of God to a couple who don’t have anything to offer him, other than love. God’s plan is crazy to me. It reminds me that He works in ways that I may not understand.

2. Christ’s birth is unconditional. God does not send Jesus into our world because of something that we have done. It is not like we earned it. The world was a mess when Jesus is born. Look around – it is still a mess. Rather, Jesus arrives at an unexpected time. In fact, almost all of the religious leaders of the day did not know about his birth. Better yet, they failed to recognize who he really is when they meet him later in the story. This theme teaches me that Jesus is a gift. I don’t earn it by doing good. I simply have to accept the gift.

3. Christ’ birth is unique. All of our major religions celebrate holidays. Some of them are similar, and some historians make the claim that our religions are all alike, and point towards the same God. But, I do not agree. I offer Christmas Day as an example. I don’t know of any other religion that celebrates something similar. Why? Because God would never enter our world as a helpless child. He would never humble himself and entrust his son to us. We would mess it up. In fact, if you know the rest of the story, that is exactly what happens.

I hope everyone celebrates Christmas. It is a great holiday – like no other. Merry Christmas.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Luke 2:4-7

Be careful – dangerous people do exist

This past week I was in Brussels Belgium. I have been there before and visited last year. It is a beautiful place – full of great sights to see, and wonderful food. My trip last year almost did not happen because there was real concern about the safety of the city. They were in lock-down for many days. Of course, all that was triggered by the terrorist attack in Paris France. The threat was real. As we all know, Brussels experienced it own terrorist attack at the airport last year- a tragic event killing many innocent people. During my visit I noticed that the airport had changed a lot since my last visit. The layout is different, and there are a lot more security measures in place to keep travelers safe.

My walk through the airport and these events remind me that the world is full of danger, and we need to be careful. I am not saying this to be paranoid, and walk in fear in this world. Rather, I don’t want you to be naïve about the world. The reality is that there are insidious people who have dastardly plans to cause harm to others. They exist, they are evil, and they do not really care about anything else than causing terror to advance their cause.

It is sad but true. Don’t try to understand these people – you never will. But, be aware of them, and be careful. For example, I did not run in Brussels while I was there. I would have loved to run through the old city center, but it would not have been a prudent thing to do. Simply not worth the risk. I was still able to have a great time on the trip, and hope to return again. Perhaps you will join me on my next visit.

Evil minds that plot destruction, sorcerer of death’s construction. In the fields the bodies burning, as the war machine keeps turning. Death and hatred to mankind, poisoning their brainwashed minds
– War Pigs by Black Sabbath

Keep it small – don’t build bigger barns

Luke 12:16-20 Jesus told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This night your life will be taken. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

The American Dream includes owning a home. It is important that you have a place to call home. You should provide a safe place for your family to live. Owning a home is also a sign of success. But, there can be a down side to owning a home. Many think the bigger the home the better. The area we live in is packed with neighborhoods full of huge houses. My recommendation is to buy a reasonably sized home, not more than you need. I bought a big house when you were young, and it was a mistake. It was a really nice house, and we enjoyed it. But, it was bigger than what we needed. It cost a lot of money and caused financial stress for me. I should have bought a smaller house.

Several years ago I sold that home. I have moved twice since then. Both times, I downsized where I live. Nowadays, I live in a small condo in Reston Town Center.I actually don’t even own the condo, I rent it. I love it. The condo is big enough for the three of us, and Reston Town Center is a great place to live. RTC has lots to see and do, and is conveniently located off the Dulles Toll Road. I plan to stay here for many years.

Last night I went to a party in a neighborhood full of very large houses on ten acre lots. The houses were beautiful, and reflect the large amount of money that residents in our area make. While I make decent money, I do not earn the kind of paycheck required to finance a mortgage over a million dollars. Many years ago I would drive through these kind of neighborhoods and dream of owning one of those mansions. But I am no longer envious. I prefer to live in a nice reasonably sized home. To me – it is the better choice. I recommend you do the same.

Visit the beach – enjoy God’s splendor

There is a sign on the wall of the vacation home we used to rent in Duck, NC that says “Heaven is a little closer when you live in a house by the sea”. I think there is probably more truth in this simple statement than one would expect. Every time I am near the sea I feel the presence of God more easily. The grandness of the ocean, and the power of the sun on the beach remind me of God’s greatness and how He is involved in all the natural splendor that we experience in this life. It is a healthy reminder of how great He is, and how small I am.

We have been to the beach many times. Both of you have enjoyed trips to the Outer Banks, the Bahamas, and Mexico. These trips all cost a fair amount of money, but I think they are worth it. I have also had the opportunity to see many other beaches to include France, Greece, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii. In fact, I spent last weekend on the Southern California coast. It was great to get away and enjoy the simple things in life like a beautiful sunset. I hope to take you there one day and to other beaches so that you can experience a little more heaven here on earth.

“O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.”

Psalm 8:1-2