“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Those popular music lyrics ring in my ears during the Christmas season. You can hear songs like that almost everywhere as you shop the stores, listen to the radio or even watch TV commercials.
Sometime ago during the Christmas season, I asked a close friend, “Is this really the most wonderful time of the year?” My friend looked a bit shocked at what seemed to be a cynical question. We both smiled and began talking about something else. I am still asking myself that question as we face yet another Christmas season.
This can be the most wonderful time of the year if we allow the Christ of Christmas to guide us through the experience. Rather than being caught up in the routined frenzy of long lines at stores shopping for gifts and the endless social gatherings during the season, we can focus on what is called the Advent.
Baptists do not use the word Advent very often because we are far less liturgical than some faith groups. Advent means “the coming or appearing of Christ.” At Christmas, we are to really celebrate the Advent or the coming of Christ as the main focus. That is the essence of the experience or, as we now more tritely expressed, “Jesus is the reason for the season.”
Celebrating the advent of Christ brings balance to the highly commercialized ritual we seem to almost robotically follow every year at this time. Reading the Scriptures about the birth narrative and the prophecies of His coming reminds us that the fact that God became flesh in Jesus is far, far more important than what we receive materially at Christmas.
This can be the most wonderful time of the year in another way too. During Advent, or Christmas, we are reminded that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” God loved so much that He gave us Jesus Christ the Lord. Our love for God’s gift in Jesus should compel us to share Him with others.
Research done by faith organizations like LifeWay indicate that people are more open to being invited to church than any other time of the year. I believe that those who do not know Christ have an unrecognized need to come to know Him. At Christmas, that need often surfaces in people’s lives: an invitation to come and worship. A word of witness to someone whom you know needs Christ can truly make this the most wonderful time of the year.
Giving to the cause of Christ can make this the most wonderful time of year. Each year, at this time, we Baptists focus on the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. A gift to this missions cause has eternal consequences. Every dollar given makes a difference in a world so much in need of knowing Christ.
Have we answered my question? I think we have. The song lyrics may echo through the shopping areas, radio stations and even in offices and on the television, but what is most important is what is happening in our hearts and lives this Christmas. Jesus makes this the most wonderful time of the year if we focus on Him, His gift and our giving!