Dressing Up for Christmas
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:” Romans 1:1-7
In our family we celebrate Christmas every day of the year. But during “advent” our celebration intensifies in the four Sundays or so before Christmas as we reflect on Christ coming to earth as a baby, his coming into our hearts as believers, his overcoming of death and victorious ascension, and the hope of his second coming. The culmination of the Old Testament promises through God’s prophets were fulfilled as “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) The darkness has been overcome by the light.
Jesus has met us at our level. (He walked in the garden, spoke to Job in a whirlwind, spoke to Moses at the tabernacle, talked to David, talked through a donkey, met Abraham, confronted Saul, and came to earth). He overcame sin in all his humanness. His life was beautiful. He was perfectly dressed. When he left earth he did not leave us alone. He sent us His Spirit. The Holy Spirit has been poured out on you.
“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.
“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:1-15)
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:34)
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Jesus came to give you rest and has enabled us to get dressed properly by giving us His word and the Holy Spirit.
“Christmas is a time of many expectations. It can be an emotional roller coaster-physically, financially, emotionally.” (Doug Wilson) Christ has shown us the way to live by telling us to look to him and be “free from the rules of conformity, living by performance, and conforming to Christian culture’s expectations”. (Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace) “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” (Proverbs 29:25) “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” (Romans 14:5-6) “His praise is not from man but from God.” (Romans 2:29) This Christmas, because Christ went before us, let us put on the garments that “glorifies God and enjoys Him forever”. As you get dressed put on the outfit that “seeks first His kingdom”. (Matt. 6:33) Put on shoes that order your life according to His word. Take off the clothes of living for others and their humanistic standards, but live for Christ and his standards through faith. Put on the truth that you are His crown (1 Thessalonians 2:19) and are wonderfully made. (Psalm 139) You are unique and have been created with a special purpose in your little world to glorify Him and bring light to all of the little places in the world by “being dressed with patience and forgiveness, seeking peace and not a quarrel, bringing merry music in the form of grace and gratitude to all of your relational encounters because you do it in Jesus’ name full of thanksgiving to the Father.” (Doug Wilson)
While layering your apparel, remember that Jesus came to serve. He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) “Gifts are symbols-they stimulate our emotions, affect us physically, and grow us spiritually.” (Doug Wilson) It is easy to begin to compare and weigh the sacrifice in each gift-whether great or small. “Gifts are an extension of you and what you value.” (Doug Wilson) So be dressed properly for the occasion. “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2) You will be happier and “merrier”. Your holiday experiences will be less volatile and more stable with peace and comfort. Your clothing this Christmas and everyday should be kindness, humility, and love. “And the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13)
“Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy Holy Face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy Birth!
Jesus, Lord, at Thy Birth!” (verse 3)
Sing: “Silent Night”
“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”
“It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”
“Go Tell It On The Mountain”
The Advent of Christ: http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/advent-christ/
God Rest Ye Merry: Why Christmas is the Foundation for Everything, Doug Wilson
Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God’s Unfailing Love, Jerry Bridges