Christmas seemed so wrong and pointless until….

I never liked Christmas as a child, and especially as a teenager. It was all such a “put on.” Everyone had to be nice, we had to buy gifts, we had to say “Merry Christmas” to everyone, which stuck in my throat, and old geezers dressed up in Santa suits yelling “Ho, ho, ho” made me want to throw up. I was hopeless at finding the right gift for people, and I couldn’t see the sense of chopping down a perfectly good tree just to decorate it and throw it out a few days later. And what was the point of Christmas anyway, when the very next day, Boxing Day, we all went back to being normal, elbowing our way through the crowds looking for bargains?

Then I found religion, but that only made things worse, because now I saw Christmas as a huge excuse for self-indulgence and “gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature” (Ephesians 2:3). And choosing December 25th as Christ’s birthday, the date when pagans celebrated the birth of the sun in self-indulgent revelry, fit that picture perfectly. Christmas was pagan in origin as well as practice, so I rejected it outright.

Then I discovered what Christians called “Advent.” And that was intriguing because Advent meant “Coming,” to picture the coming of God himself to this Earth, not once or twice, but three times – first of all, as the human Jesus in the first century, then as the Spirit Jesus now, and finally as King Jesus in the future. It focused entirely on what Jesus did for us on the Earth in the past, what Jesus is doing for us on the Earth in the present, and what Jesus will do for us on the Earth in the future. And that I liked, because it was so practical, real and encouraging. It’s practical because in Jesus I can see what God’s up to; it’s real because I can experience it personally; and it’s encouraging because it gives me real hope that our world isn’t going to hell.

Why not? Because Jesus came to save us from hell. How? By living the human life we couldn’t live ourselves, and then living that life in us – both now and forever. And I could see that being true at Christmas-time, because it’s the one time all year we really try to be good. It’s just a glimpse, but a very real glimpse that God is real and he’s on the job doing exactly what he said he would do in Jesus. And for that reason, Christmas for me doesn’t seem quite so wrong and pointless.

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