Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Holiday Season from Joseph, Mary and Jesus

It would be shocking to receive a Christmas card from Joseph and Mary showing the family posing for a group portrait. There's baby Jesus being held by his proud mother showing off her new infant.

In fact, I take it the only family who really have any bragging rights on their child during this time of the year would be the parents of the Messiah of Israel.

Yet during the Christmas rush I receive card after card portraying lovely families with beautiful, happy children. On some cards, if the kids are off to college or married, a photo of husband and wife is satisfactory.

The greeting that accompanies the card usually says: Greetings during this holiday season! Love from the Gutenberg family."

Some cards come with those much anticipated updates on a year's full of antics by the kids. . . their school activities, grade, honors and trophies and extra curricular events such as baseball, soccer and karate. Some newsletters describe Aunt Sally's goiter and Uncle Tom's prostate infections and changing bowel habits. A full-on description of how the family's house is being decorated and how Dad received a promotion . . . Give me a Christmas break!

I often ask, "Do I need to know all this information about your family during Christmas?" Isn't this time of the year when we should really only about one child. . . and one special family.

Most of these family portrait cards say nothing about Jesus or mention any biblical truths drawn out of the early chapters of the Gospels describing the Messiah's birth.

Am I dense? I don't get it. What does a family portrait card have to do with Christmas and this holy time of year?

How about this suggestion? Pass a federal or state law making February 19th or any other date, "Family Day." On this day we send all our friends cards with family portraits with three page newsletters describing how Johnny's front teeth fell out and little Cindy's had her first dance recital. That would be wonderful.

But when it comes to Christmas, I wonder if Jesus is saying, "Hey you, get off my cloud." This time is about Him not your kids or my kids. Why send cards that say nothing when Christians have a greatest message in the world?

What did the angel say to the shepherds? Listen carefully: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:10-11 NIV). Now that's a Christmas card. Joseph and Mary could take a portrait of themselves and print those words from Luke 2 and make that their Christmas greetings.

Now some followers of Messiah are afraid to offend secular people or their family by including in a card any allusion to the New Testament message of the birth of Christ. My response? Don't send a card if you can't be honest about your beliefs. No one is going to discover "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son" by looking at your family all decked out in your front yard wearing reindeer sweaters and Santa hats.

I know . . this year the cards have gone out. It's too late to make a change. But during Christmas '08 let's be sure to send cards that say something about the Lord instead of postcards that say something about us. The name of the holiday is "Christ"-mas not "Family"-mas.

Perhaps if we treated Christmas as the celebration of the birth of Jesus and our observance of the incarnation (God took on human flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth), secular people would respect our spiritual choices. How can they believe the good news unless they hear the message?

Thank God the first chapter of Matthew and the first two chapters of Luke's gospel were not presented on a postcard from Bethlehem showing the adoring parents of Jesus admiring their son with the message: Happy holidays and a wonderful New Year from Joseph, Mary and Jesus.

Where would we be if that's the message the parents of Jesus decided to send the world?

Seriously . . . I wish you all a joyous Christmas. Thanks for reading my blog. I desire you all have a Messiah centered celebration of our Risen Lord Yeshua and a wonderful New Year giving honor to and serving Him.

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