Merry Christmas! Oh, excuse me! Seasons Greetings. Happy Holidays. Finding Jesus at Christmas is just like playing “Where’s Waldo.” Look hard. He’s nowhere to be found! I attended a middle school “Christmas” concert with my daughter. The word “Christmas” was never uttered. Nary a carol was sung. The night was not silent. A spoiled two-year-old screamed and kicked the back of my seat. Santa made a movie for two boring hours. I left dejected and deflated.
Unchurched kids in that pageant will never know the lyrics to “Silent Night,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” or “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” The beauty and wonder of a loving God who came to us as a humble baby will fall on deaf ears. My heart hurts.
I drove through our “star-studded” neighborhood on my way home. Disney lights twinkled. Inflatable snowmen swayed in the breeze. Charlie Brown and Lucy petted tiny reindeer. Man, these houses were decked! I asked a neighbor the cost of having professional lighting companies install and remove Christmas lights. (Almost everyone in our neighborhood pays big bucks for stunning décor…$600). Unbelievable!!!
After surveying 63 homes in a three-block radius, our community was officially “Jesus-less.” Finally, we turned down a lonely lane where houses were smaller and simpler. One lone home displayed a manger. Baby Jesus was barely visible from the street. It was obvious these folks had no spare cash for decorations. But they proudly placed the single symbol of their love for Christ in their yard. I wasn’t planning to decorate this year. But I’m on my way to Home Depot to buy a manger, by golly!
Where did Baby Jesus go? Don’t throw Him out with the bathwater!
Our only hope of returning Christ to His rightful place is to make Him Lord of our homes and churches. Then, and only then, can we reach our communities with the Gospel or affect changes in our society.
How can you bring back the Baby?
1. Mezuzah your home.
One easy identifier of a Jewish home was the mezuzah, a case affixed to the doorpost of every Jewish house. The Jews marked their homes in a visual, critical way to remind them of their devotion to God:
“The Lord is our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord, your God, with all of your heart, and with all of your soul, and with all of your means. And these words, which I command you this day, should be upon your heart. And you shall teach them to your sons and speak of them when you sit in your home and when you walk on your way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall inscribe them upon the doorposts of your home and upon your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:20-21. (KJV)
Fill your home with visual reminders of Christ’s coming. Our year-round mezuzah plaque proclaimed “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15 (KJV). Our children knew that our home was a place where God came first.
Manger scenes, Christmas verses and advent calendars celebrate the holy entrance of the newborn king. Photos are precious mezuzahs in our home. We have 15,000 family/ministry pictures in two rotating frames on the bar of our kitchen. (We used to call my husband ‘Flash’!) Each snapshot reminds me of God’s blessings upon our family, His favor and protection throughout our children’s lives and His mercy as we pastored and served on the mission field. I fondly remember God’s faithfulness as I gaze upon our mezuzahs.
2. Tell the Story.
Beautiful passages about Christ fill the Scriptures. Don’t just focus on Luke 2, the traditional account of Jesus’ birth.
Read these four kinds of Bible verses at Christmastime:
Christ, a Sign from the Lord: Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 2:10; Luke 2:12
Christ, highly exalted, Prince and King: Isaiah 9:6; Zechariah 9:9; Acts 5:31; Philippians 2:8-10
Christ, the Promised Messiah, born of a Virgin: Isaiah 11:1; Matthew 1:21-23; Luke 1:30-31; Luke 2:15-16
Christ, Good News, Great Joy and Precious Gift: Luke 2:10,11,14; John 3:16; Romans 6:23; Romans 15:13; 2 Corinthians 9:15 (KJV); James 1:171
3. Sing Carols at home and at church.
Attend Christmas services and pageants. Go caroling in your neighborhoods, hospitals, nursing homes and homeless shelters. Play your harmonica, trumpet, guitar or kazoo (just kidding! Leave the kazoos and accordions at home!) FYI, scientific research has proven singing improves memory, multi-tasking and stimulates feelings of well-being and calm.
Most importantly, God tells us to sing 208 times in the Bible:
“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. ...” Psalm 96:1 (KJV)
Where did Baby Jesus go? I feared the world had forgotten Him.
I had a bad case of the Christmas blues. Then I watched “Black-ish, ”one of my favorite family sitcoms. “Stuff” was the title. Daddy Dre was sick of his greedy, selfish kids tearing through Christmas presents, asking for gift receipts to return them. The Johnson family finally found Christmas joy when they pared down presents to one gift each, volunteered at a homeless shelter and baked a cake for Baby Jesus. Grandma’s cheerful words concluded the show: “Come on, kids, we have some leftover pieces of Jesus’ birthday cake to share!
That’s what I’m talking ‘bout! Bring back that Baby!