Childhood memories leave a lasting impression on our lives. In walking down memory lane, here are some of my own childhood memories regarding Christmas (in no particular order):
- a Christmas tree in the living room
- special decorations, lights, and candles
- singing Christmas carols
- a Nativity set in which baby Jesus was placed in the center
- family gatherings
- yummy meals and treats
- sitting by the fireplace with hot cocoa
- the Christmas Eve service at church
- celebrating the birth of Jesus
All beautiful and wonderful memories to instill in a child. But there is something very important missing from this list…something not impressed upon me as a child. Something we all need in our Christmas. What could this possibly be? Consider the following thoughts:
There is lurking behind every beautiful scene on every Christmas card, every lovely sentiment of Christmas, somewhere behind all of that is something very vile and very ugly. The most wretched, heinous, hideous reality in all of the universe. And I really believe that to have a proper understanding of the beauty of Christmas, you must have a proper understanding of the ugliness of Christmas….
The heart of Christmas is this: Christ came into the world to save sinners. Christ was manifest to take away sin. “You shall call his name Jesus for he shall save his people from their sin.” And the real beauty of Christmas is to understand the ugliness that it cures…
Sin disturbs and disrupts every human relationship, whether between man and man, man and creation, or man and God. Thomas Watson, the great Puritan writer, said, “Sin has turned beauty into deformity and the wicked takes more care to have his sin covered than cured.” Men are much more prone to excuse their sin than they are to examine it. And so it’s fitting that at this time of the year when men would cover their sin with all the beauty of Christmas that the covering be torn off, if but for a brief moment, to reveal the ugliness that is behind it all.
You see, the reason that Christ was born was to be the savior who came to deliver men from sin. If there were no sin, there would need to be no Christmas. So we cannot divorce the two and we cannot hide behind the fantasy. We cannot hide behind the smokescreen of Christmas cards and all the rest. Sin must come to the forefront.
(Excerpt from a sermon by John MacArthur, The Ugliness of Christmas, www.gty.org)
So, as we consider making memories this Christmas that will leave a lasting and life-changing impression upon our children, let’s remember to carefully teach our children the real reason why Christmas is so beautiful.
(Image courtesy of Feelart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)