Last year, I ordered a book called The Heart of Christmas by Hank Hanegraaff. It’s a good read; a daily devotional. Each day, the book examines a part of the Christmas story and eventually leads the reader to the real “heart” of Christmas: Jesus Christ.
If you have never listened to Hank’s show, I would urge you to. He’s a good guy. He’s sharp. He doesn’t mince words. Unlike me, he’s not a judgmental Christian. He just tells the truth and welcomes all questions.
Now, most everyone will tell you that Christmas is about Christ’s birth. I’ve always said it, no matter what my real attitude toward the holiday was.
When I was a kid, of course, I based my feelings about Christmas on how much loot I got.
Thankfully, my own children are a bit more in tune than I was. Although the baby is still discovering things about Christmas, the older three have learned about Christ’s birth and the overall meaning and importance of Christmas. Gifts don’t mean that much to them anymore, although they are still grateful for the gifts and certainly enjoy asking for things and receiving them.
As I got older and started a career, I equated the season with relaxation. Christmas was a time to linger over cups of coffee, take naps, and not think about grading papers or the stress of the job.
I can be very judgmental when it comes to talking about Christmas. I look around and see not only children, but adults who insist that presents are the real deal. Kid must have presents to make it a good Christmas. You can’t have Christmas without gifts.
Furthermore, a certain amount of money has to be spent on the gift to make it worthwhile. To me, this is where I comment “Bah! Humbug.”
I know you can’t really tell kids it’s enough just to get the family together and have a nice meal. No. Many of them have had it instilled in them that Christmas is all about the stuff and I’ve heard kids whine and complain when they didn’t get something they liked.
Okay, they’re just kids. I get it. But how much conversation has taken place with kids about what is really important? Again, I’m judgmental. I’ll admit.
So, if you are like me and sometimes get fed up with the ways of the world, I recommend this book. If you are like me and find yourself just thinking about naps and relaxing, I recommend this book.
The book talks about key elements of Christmas and actually uses the word itself to turn our focus back to Christ.
We learn about Christ, history, the Resurrection, the Incarnation, traditions, miracles, Advent and Salvation. A cluster of devotions is dedicated to each of these topics in the book.
Just when you thought all Christians were judgmental and anti-secular all the way, the book also talks about Santa Claus, Christmas trees and other things you sometimes hear that Christians are against when it comes to the holiday.
I haven’t been as faithful with the book as I would have liked, but I’ve read it in its entirety. I’ve reflected, I’ve pondered, and I’ve let it soak in.
I won’t tell you I am this fantastic person because of the book. But, I will tell you that the book has helped me to dig deeper. It’s really become something that makes you re- examine where you are at when it comes to spiritual matters. It answers questions. It tells the truth, as I said.
Jesus, God in the flesh, was sent here to save us. He is the greatest gift anyone could ever imagine. Our problem with the whole thing is that we want to do our own thing, think our own thoughts, and go our own way. We don’t want to be told what to do. We are glad to have a Savior. However, we really don’t want a Lord. I think that’s the main problem with truly accepting the whole story of Jesus.
It is my hope that people begin to focus more on the love God showed for us. When we realize that love and when we understand the great sacrifice He made for us, the rest of the stuff falls into place. Suddenly, we understand what it means to obey Christ and put our lives in His hands. It’s not about being told what to do or a big list of “dos and don’ts.”
We get to the real meaning of the holiday. We get to the real “heart” of Christmas.