When we think of Christmas, we often think of the beautiful decorations that are used to celebrate the season. The first Christmas tree ornaments began centuries ago in Europe when roses were first attached to the boughs of an evergreen tree. As the trees moved indoors, the tradition of decorating them with nuts and sweets evolved.
But the watershed period in the history of ornaments took place in Lauscha, Germany in the 1880s. Artisans began blowing small hollow glass “baubles” and hand-painting them as ornaments. And the mass production of ornaments continued in America in the early part of the twentieth century.
Yes, ornaments help create the atmosphere we all love at this time of year. But Christmas is far more about how we express our own love for Jesus Christ as we celebrate His birth.
Think about how God put His personal touch on the first Christmas in Bethlehem. It took the world completely by surprise and continues to amaze 2,000 years later.
The King’s earthly parents were commoners who weren’t married when Mary became pregnant. They arrived at the birthplace after a stressful journey by foot from the north of Israel. The only shelter they could find was a stable where Mary gave birth to the Baby. The only congratulations they received were from humble shepherds. Only later was Jesus visited by wealthy Magi who brought gifts suitable for a king.
But think of the personal message God delivered with these “decorations”: This King would be humble; a king for the high and lowly alike. This King’s glory would be shown in the purity of His life.
God’s “decorations” in Bethlehem said it all. And the decorations we choose for Christmas can send our own message to the world.
Decorations of the Heart
The decorations I’m talking about are the decorations of the heart—manifestations of the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:1-11; Galatians 5:22-23).We have the opportunity to tell the world about Jesus by the way we allow the Spirit to decorate our lives at Christmas.
Just as families value special tree ornaments that become part of their tradition and legacy, some families have developed traditions that become part of their Christmas “decoration.” Through acts of kindness, generosity, and sacrifice, the world can see how we honor our Lord. Jesus said it is by our love that the world will realize we are His followers (John 13:35). How could you and your family personalize Christmas this year—creating a crystal clear holiday decoration that tells others what you hold dear about Jesus? Consider these suggestions to add to your own:
• Look for a family who may be struggling financially this Christmas and consider a financial gift: Perhaps a “Christmas feast in a box” with all the trimmings, or a gift card at a grocery store or toy store for gifts for their children.
• Think about students, folks who live alone, and especially those who may be housebound or in the hospital due to illness. Christmas day can be the loneliest day of the year for those separated from friends or family. Invite them to join your family; offer to pick them up if transportation is a problem. Or take Christmas to them if they are unable to get out.
• Consider a Christmas gift box for a missionary family who is on the field of service. Or make a special donation to a ministry in honor of a loved one—or in honor of Jesus Himself!
• Gather a group of friends and go caroling in a nursing home or retirement community. Take small gifts or Christmas cookies that express the love of Christ to those who long to receive it.
• Let your children get involved in “all the above” and any additional ideas you have. Traditions of love, kindness, and service start when our children are young. Make decorating your lives with God’s decorations a family affair.
May this be your most beautiful Christmas ever! May the decorations in your home be overshadowed by only one thing: the decorations in your heart—a clear holiday adornment for all the world to see.
Dr. Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of
Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.
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