Simple Christmas: Week One – A Simple Deception
Simple Christmas: Week One – A Simple Deception
- Some people do have a simple Christmas, and I have heard some great ideas on how to make Christmas simple and have it be something that builds up rather than drains
- However, for many the word ‘simple’ doesn’t fit with Christmas
- When something is already complicated/complex the only way to change that is through thoughtful intentionality
A Question you might be asking – Why should we change the way we do Christmas?
- Jim, are you advocating that Christmas should be simple to start with? My answer is yes.
Example in the Old Testament Celebrations
Exodus 19:5–6 (NIV) 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
Context of Deuteronomy 6
- Saved Israel – God gives them new leadership, new structure, new laws, new rules for living – a new mission –new practices of living weekly –
- Going into a land with three enemies –pride (internal) -cultural –spiritual
- New celebrations – The Day of Atonement –Passover –Pentecost –Festival of Booths’
Exodus 23:15 (NIV) 15 “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Aviv, for in that month you came out of Egypt. “No one is to appear before me empty-handed.
- The purpose of celebrations in the context of community and family:
- A Reminder –These feasts were not only times of celebration but also served as reminders of God’s faithfulness, deliverance, and provision for His people. They held deep theological significance and continue to be studied and celebrated by those interested in biblical history and culture.
- A Uniting vision –Something that rallied the people together around a specific vision of the world
- A break from the normal work life – Rest –Joy
- Tools that gave an opportunity to teach theological/spiritual truths to your children—foreigners—reiterate again who and what we are
- The role of the parents in conjunction with the community was to
- Focus themselves again “love God obey His commands—a refocusing
- Teach their kids so that they were ready for the enemy they would face in the promised land – internal= Pride –External= A sinful culture -Spiritual+ Idols/demons
- Not all of these celebrations were simple – meaning they didn’t take time or preparation—There was just a simple purpose – not like the complex issue of making everyone happy in their own way –not focusing on what we need to be happy but rather on God – what He has done for us already and what He has promised to do in the future.
Deuteronomy 6:1–9 (NIV)
Celebrations in the New Testament—Christmas
- A new covenant – new Revelation –In His blood
- We together with the Jewish believers are a part of His Holy Nation
- Christmas officially Started on December 25, 336
- The first purpose – Christ Mass -Advent calendars—same as in the Old Testaments –objective –pointing people to the eternal – what God had done for those who were in the dark.
- As we evaluate what the first Christmas was about, we have to ask ourselves the question—is our Christmas accomplishing what spiritual celebrations were given for?
- Everyone gets upset if we don’t say Merry Christmas but now much of Christmas is really about Jesus at all
1 Peter 2:9 (NIV) 9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
If we are not careful….
Judges 2:10 (NIV) 10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.
2 Corinthians 11:3 (NIV) But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
- Currently the first question we are asked as a child at Christmas time is What do I want for Christmas”?
- As we grow up the question becomes not only what would I want but now also I ask (and am responsible to find out –what you want for Christmas)
- If the focus is what do I want and what do others want then what does Christmas become about?
- If most of our time is about creating the perfect experience for myself and others, how do you create the perfect experience for everyone at the same time?
- Can you get the true meaning of Christmas in 15 minutes or even one hour, when hundreds of hours are about the cultural Christmas experience?
- The right question for disciples of Jesus—Who is God/Jesus and what does He want for Christmas?
- He wanted to reveal Himself for who He is – He wants to save us and Lead us
- So what does He want from you?
Isaiah 7:14 (NIV) Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Luke 2:11 (NIV) 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
What happens when we pursue our own happiness—expensive in money and time and energy – takes time to get back to even
- Christmas reinforces for many the idea that the human question: What do I want, what do my kids want? Is the right question and leads to happiness.
- The result of doing things the worlds way – exhausting – leads to brokenness –broke
Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV) 9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
Proverbs 22:15 (NIV) 15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.
What if we asked ourselves– What does Jesus want for me and my family this Christmas? –He wants us to have Him because He is the best thing for us.
Question 1: What is Gods goal for our Christmas celebration? What does the Christmas story as revealed in the scriptures tell us about God and what He wants for us?
Question 2: Am I and my children/grandchildren getting the Lord’s message by the way we are currently doing Christmas? – What message are they really getting right now?
Question 3: What needs to change for my family to receive the intended message from God through Christmas? –what is the plan? Create a new kind of plan–
Ideas—Let’s brainstorm a new kind of Christmas that accomplishes the goal that God has for us.
Let me give you some potential ideas of how to keep Jesus the focus. Pick one or two ideas. Don’t shame yourself or overwhelm yourself.
- Use an advent calendar with your family leading up to Christmas.
- Have a nativity scene for your children to set up during December.
- Read the Christmas story in Luke 1 & 2.
- Talk about why Jesus has come to earth with your family. What was His purpose?
- Minimize or eliminate Santa Clause – instead explain who St. Nicholas was and what He did.
- Invite unchurched friends to our Christmas Eve services and discuss what you heard.
- Adopt a family for Christmas to serve and bless them.
- Serve your family by doing something special for each family member. This is a gift.
- Minimize the number of gifts, stop asking kids what they want.
- Do a family devotion with your children on Christmas Eve or Christmas day.
- Baking favorite food or cookies to express love, bake Jesus a birthday cake.
For Small Group Discussion
Opening Question: What was your favorite Christmas tradition growing up?
Main Point: A simple Christmas is an intentional Christmas. It’s a challenge to wade through the deceptions and distractions that take away from the true meaning of Christmas.
Main Scripture: 2 Corinthians 11:3
- What tactic did the enemy use with Eve in the garden?
- How do you see those same tactics being used today? Specifically around the holidays?
- What is the goal of your Christmas celebrations, and why?
- Instead of asking the question, “What do I want for Christmas?” what would you say Jesus wants for you for Christmas?
- We can’t always change our Christmas commitments or family dynamics, but is there something you would like to do differently this year? What is it?
- What can you simplify in this season? What traditions should you continue to press into?
Additional Scripture: Deuteronomy 6, Judges 2:10, Colossians 3:1
Tips and Resources: