The True Spirit of Christmas
The true spirit of Christmas is expressed in humbly acknowledging and submitting to our place in God's plan.
In one Peanuts comic strip, Lucy was saying that Christmas is a time for kindness and a time to forgive one another. Charlie Brown says: "Why do that just at Christmas? Why can't we have the Christmas spirit the rest of the year?" Lucy looks at Charlie and says, "What are you, some kind of religious fanatic?"
Last week, we began our study of Luke's gospel. We saw that Luke is the gospel writer who focuses the most on preparation. He shows us how the way was prepared for the arrival of God's Son, and how we ourselves must be prepared. The angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah in the temple and promised that his wife would bear a child who would prepare the way for the coming of Christ. Zechariah had a hard time believing that because he and his wife were well beyond the years of having children. He asked for a sign, and the angel gave him more than he bargained for—he was unable to speak until the promised was fulfilled.
At this point in Luke's Gospel, Zechariah exits the stage. He'll be back, but now we have a scene change. Luke leads us from the great and holy temple in Jerusalem to an obscure village in a remote region not known for its piety. He leads us away from this well-known priest towards an unknown peasant; from an old man to a young woman. He leads us from Zechariah to Mary.
More than anyone else in the Christmas story, Mary demonstrates to us what the true spirit of Christmas really is. The true spirit of Christmas is not the spirit of family bonding, or the spirit of giving, or even the spirit of rejoicing. All of those things are well and good, but Mary teaches us that the true spirit of Christmas is a spirit of humility.
The spirit of humility is seen in submission to the Lord's plan.
Mary's story ...
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Mark Mitchell is pastor of Central Peninsula Church in Foster City, California.