That night when Jesus was born, how many people new what was happening? Think about it for a minute — how many people new that God was being born? Did anyone know that incarnation was happening? Who knew that God was taking on flesh in order to dwell among us? Who knew that God was so in love with us that God was coming to be with us? Was anyone thinking that God was so radically intent on being reconciled with God’s creation?
Mary and Joseph had an idea that something special was happening. Elizabeth and Zechariah might have known, along with a few other family members, perhaps. The shepherds, of course, get clued in by a heavenly visitation. Eventually, there will be visitors from the east. Herod will be briefed on what they believe has happened. Beyond a handful of people, most of the world’s population had no idea that anything significant, much less world changing, happened on that first Christmas.
All these years later, some might argue that the birth of Christ has been changed by the world more than it has changed the world. Christmas seems to be about many things that have little or nothing to do with God coming into the world in order redeem and reconcile human hearts. Granted there are many opportunities to do good for the less fortunate during the holiday season, but for most people these are sandwiched into a hectic schedule that reduces them to obligation or afterthought, rather than focal point. The truth of the matter is that Christmas has become an industry, an economic engine, that springs to life earlier and earlier each year, so that it can better serve the purpose to which it has devolved. The air around Christmas is so polluted by the smog and debris of consumerism run amok that the Christ is hardly visible.
Some have seen a threat to Christmas in the practice of referring to the season as the holiday season, rather than Christmas. Their aim is to keep Christ in Christmas. It is a laudable goal insofar as it goes. One would think that a birthday celebration would, at a minimum, include the one for whom the celebration is being given. But what purpose does it serve if the end result is still the same old hustle and bustle, the same cluttered and obstructed view of God entering our world in order to embrace us with an everlasting love.
We still live in a world that needs to experience the love God expressed so emphatically on that first Christmas. How can the world ever hope to experience that love unless the body of Christ, the church, intentionally and practically shares that love? We have been loved with that love and we know that it is not ours to enjoy just for ourselves. It is ours to share.
Keeping Christ in Christmas is not enough. What if we did more than just keep Christ in Christmas? What if we made Christmas about Christ? What if Christmas was an event that could once again change the world? This Christmas, at Ball Camp Baptist Church, we are conspiring together (literally, breathing together) to do just that. By worshipping fully, spending less, giving more, and loving all, we are going to be a part of a Christmas that will change lives. We are not alone in this conspiracy. Others are breathing with us. Cooperative Baptist Fellowship missionaries in the United States and around the world are daily striving to be the presence of Christ to those who have yet to fully realize the meaning of that first Christmas in their own lives. As we seek to make Christmas more about Christ this year, their world and their lives may never be the same.