When someone in your family has a birthday, it makes you want to do something nice for them. You want to make them feel special. It’s easy to tell someone “happy birthday!”, and it usually makes them feel good. But would we be willing to do something more?
We can have the right mentality about Christmas, but that doesn’t feel like enough, does it?
When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
-Luke 7:37, 38
“Are you ill, dear Aslan?” asked Susan. “No,” said Aslan. “I am sad and lonely. Lay your hands on my mane so that I can feel you are there and let us walk like that.” And so the girls did what they would never have dared to do without permission, but what they had longed to do every since they first saw him–buried their cold hands in the beautiful sea of fur and stroked it and, so doing, they walked with him. (150)
–The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
These are both beautiful stories, that can teach us amazing things about God. But when we look at them in a practical sense we run into a dilemma, because none of us are going to have a chance like that in this world.
So then what?
How are we even supposed to celebrate Christ’s birthday for Him? What if the answer is that we’re supposed to bless others? That’s harder, isn’t it? The people around us didn’t die for us. But Jesus died for them. He loved them. That should be enough.
” Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'”
. . . “They will also answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'”
-Matthew 25: 37-40, 44-45
But there’s more than that.
‘Antinoös, you did badly to hit the unhappy vagabond: a curse on you, if he turns out to be some god from heaven. For the gods do take on all sorts of transformations, appearing as strangers from elsewhere, and thus they range at large through the cities, watching to see which men keep the laws, and which are violent.’ (265)
–The Odyssey, translated by Richmond Lattimore
Obviously, those gods do not exist. But maybe there is more truth in that quote than first appears.
Jesus died for us, took what we deserved, and we could do nothing to ease the pain. “Seeing Christ in the least of these” as Katie Davis puts it in Kisses from Katie is our only chance.
Use your imagination. Imagine Christ, the One who died for you, wanting your help. Picture Him. It makes it easier. It doesn’t have to be accurate, it can be that picture from a child’s picture book Bible. I’m serious, it has made it so much easier for me.
This Christmas, I want to focus on Christ–and therefore, focus on others. I first thought of this last Easter, and it really helped. “Christ died for me, I can do the dishes.” “Jesus gave up everything for me, why do I think I can’t speak nicely to my siblings?”
Of course, we should focus on others all year around. But holidays can serve as a reminder.
And that’s what Christmas is about anyway–remembering.