Excerpt from Discovering the True Spirit of Christmas
by Karen Tripp
In November, when you get your first glimpse of the plans for this Christmas, the view seems very manageable. But as November leaves and thoughts of turkey dinners and football playoffs diminish, the list of things to do before Christmas inexplicably begins to grow. The list includes visiting others to share your love, buying gifts to make others smile, and entertaining family and friends to give them joy. You don’t remember saying yes to half the things on your list but now you are expected to get everything done by December 25th. Let’s be clear, this is not necessarily a bad thing. When we are in touch with the enormity of the gift of the Christ Child, we want to share our joy and peace with others. We want to do things to make others smile.
But just look at the size of your “to do” list! Here’s the big question: what should you do this holiday season to contribute to a Christ filled Christmas and what is frivolous activity and useless expenditures that pull you away from focusing on Christ? These are tough question.
Three Gifts: The Bible, The Messiah and The Holy Spirit
Here’s the good news. God knew that discerning between what is God focused and what is man focused would be difficult for us, His beloved children. So He gave us three gifts: the first is the gift of God’s word: the Bible. Through God’s word we are able to learn the love story between Him and His children. The Bible is the foundation of our faith given for us to lean on. Perhaps through your life, God’s word has given you guidance and understanding but as you look at the decisions facing you this Christmas, the scriptures are not giving the answers you need.
- “Do I go to my husband’s office party to meet His boss or attend my daughter’s
Christmas production which are both on the same night?”
- “Should I spend Christmas in Florida with my in-laws if it means missing my family
- “Do I go to my Aunt’s for the annual Christmas Eve get together even though my uncle
drank so much last year that he embarrassed me in front of my kids?”
Let’s face it, there is no easy scripture reference to solve these problems. (“Are drunk
Christmas Eve uncles in Micah?”) Fortunately, God wasn’t done with His gift giving. On that first Christmas, 2000 years ago, God sent His perfect Son Jesus to be born of a virgin and to one day die on the cross for our sins. With His last breath Jesus breathed hope into the world. I don’t mean hope came into the world metaphorically, I mean hope came into the world literally. Life before Jesus’ death and Resurrection was filled with mankind yearning to be closer to God. But each of us know we are imperfect and therefore not clean enough to stand in the presence of God. With Jesus’ last
breath, He gave the world the path to one day stand before the Lord God Almighty, clean and perfect, singing songs of praise! (Don’t worry if you are like me and can not sing a note. Even tone death people will sing like angels in God’s throne room! Won’t that be great!)
What does Christ mean for you this Christmas? Everything! He brings a life of hope and not despair. It means the darkest trouble in your world is not hopeless because the gift of Christ does more than clean us up so we can sing in heaven. Christ came so you may live life abundantly now, today. But let’s face it, Jesus is not here, in the flesh to tell you what to do. You still have questions and confusion that the words in the Bible alone cannot answer. This leads us to an often ignored gift from God. The end of the Christmas story, after the birth of our Savior, after His death and Resurrection, God sent one more gift.
To learn more about this gift, turn to John 16:5-7. This is Jesus talking to His disciples on the night before He died.
Now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
- Who is Jesus going to send when He leaves?
Jesus is preparing the disciples for their life after He returns to heaven to be with His Father. The gift Jesus will send is the Counselor. Doesn’t that sound great? A counselor is there to comfort you, and guide you when life stops making sense. Let’s keep reading in John to learn more about who is the counselor.
Read John 15:26.
When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.
- What is another name for the Counselor?
- From where does it come?
YES! This is so perfect! Jesus is sending the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit, to earth. This my friend is the true Spirit of Christmas. Just as the Holy Spirit was at the creation of the earth (Genesis 1:1-2), It was also at the First Christmas and it is here today for this Christmas. When people say “What’s happened to the Spirit of Christmas?” the answer is nothing. The Holy Spirit, the true Spirit of Christmas is as alive today as it was 2000 years ago in Bethlehem. The Holy Spirit is completely able to fill your Christmas with the love, peace and joy which you have been yearning.
Maybe you’re shaking your head at me. “Karen you don’t know how bad a year I’ve had. The Spirit of Christmas has better things to do than drop in on me.” It’s very tempting to think that the Holy Spirit is in other people’s lives but not yours. So who will be blessed with receiving the Spirit? To whom did Jesus send the Spirit?
Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-13.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
- Is the Holy Spirit given to some believers or all believers in Christ?
These verses are talking about you. The comfort, guidance and teachings of the Holy Spirit is not something that God has given to some other believer. This gift, just like the gift of salvation, has been given to you, His beloved child. If you believe that Jesus died for your sins then you have received the Holy Spirit whether you know it or not. These next four weeks we will be learning who is this Holy Spirit, what did He do in the lives of Mary, Joseph, Simeon and Elizabeth at that First Christmas and what is this glorious Christmas Spirit doing for you this Christmas?