Can This Be Christmas?
Dr. Jack R. Hodges, Jr.
“While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:6-7)
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…! So begins a popular Christmas song that is played each and every year at Christmas time. Surely, God’s wonderful and greatest gift to mankind is something to be celebrated—for God came near and took on human flesh He come to live among us and then to die for us. He came so that we, God’s precious creation, might be delivered from the penalty of sin and reconciled once again to Him.
M.R. DeHaan, the founder of the old Radio Bible Class, wrote this timely poem entitled, Can This Be Christmas? His poem draws our attention to the real object of our Christmas celebration:
What’s all this hectic rush and worry’
Where go these crowds who run and curry’
Why all the lights—the Christmas trees’
The jolly “fat man,” tell me please!
Why, don’t you know? This is the day
For parties and for fun and play;
Why this is Christmas!
So this is Christmas, do you say’
But where is Christ this Christmas day’
Has He been lost among the throng’
His voice drowned out by empty song’
No. He’s not here—you’ll find Him where
Some humble soul now kneels in prayer,
Who knows the Christ of Christmas.
But see the many aimless thousands
Who gather on this Christmas Day,
Whose hearts have never yet been opened,
Or said to Him, “Come in to stay.”
In countless homes the candles burning,
In countless hearts expectant yearning
For gifts and presents, food and fun,
And laughter till the day is done.
But not a tear of grief or sorrow
For Him so poor He had to borrow
A crib, a colt, a boat, a bed
Where He could lay His weary head.
I’m tired of all this empty celebration,
Of feasting, drinking, recreation;
I’ll go instead to Calvary.
And there I’ll kneel with those who know
The meaning of that manager low,
And find the Christ—this Christmas.
I leap by faith across the years
To that great day when He appears
The second time, to rule and reign,
To end all sorrow, death, and pain.
In endless bliss we then shall dwell
With Him who saved our souls from hell,
And worship Christ—not Christmas!
What, then, is Christmas? Is it the pomp and circumstance? The tinsel and the garland? Is it the rush of consumerism or the hurry and scurry of last-minute shopping? Is it the Christmas cards, decorated trees, homes, and yards? Is it the bright lights and food? Is it snow or the warmth of a fire on a cold December day? Each of these may bring a feeling of happiness and excitement! But is that Christmas? The answer is, of course, no! What, then, is Christmas?
For each of us as Christians, Christmas is a time of spiritual reflection upon the important foundations of the Christian faith. It is a time of celebration! It’s when we, as the recipients of the greatest gift that has ever been given to God’s special creation, celebrate God’s love gift for the world through the birth of the Christ child, Jesus.
Christmas is an attitude of devotion and worship, which translates to a daily lifestyle. That attitude and heart for God is not just a season or a day! It’s a life lived each day recognizing and celebrating what God has done for us in Jesus. He, God Incarnate, was born in order to pay the price for our sin. Gracious and loving God sent his only Son to be the atonement for all our sins—so that we would be forgiven, reconciled, and adopted as spiritual sons and daughters; so that would not be separated from God; and so that we would experience true and deep fellowship with God, our Heavenly Father. That’s why we celebrate Christmas!
Dr. Jack Hodges is the Senior Pastor at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Morganton, NC. He has served as a pastor, a biblical counselor, and an International Mission Board missionary.
Read more from Dr. Hodges here.