The meaning of Christmas is easily lost in the glitter and hype that fill our days for weeks and months at this time of year. Much about the Christmas season is cozy and appealing. Much else about it is shallow and consumeristic. But what is the true meaning of Christmas?
The shirtless man doing taekwondo, the child staring blankly across the table at dad’s empty chair, both parents celebrating a baby’s first Christmas and the couple who cannot get pregnant, and Melissa moving earnestly from one person to the next. These are the new characters of Christmas.
The meaning of Christmas in Germany, however, gives the church freedom to proclaim the miraculous story of Jesus once again—that Christ was born for all people, that outsiders from the East are welcomed to greet the newborn Savior, and that lowly shepherds can proclaim the Good News of great joy.
My name is Zechariah. Nothing so remarkable there, as thirty Zechariahs before me are recorded in the Scriptures. But Zechariah means “Yahweh remembers,” and that seems remarkable to me, especially after...well, I’ll explain in a minute.
For Joseph, there is little comfort in store. He will take in a wife about whom others whisper. He will make a cross-country trek with this wife while she is large with child, walking while she rides a donkey, only to see her give birth to the child not only among strangers, but among animals in a stable—the only place that Joseph could find for her.
As a pastor, I always kind of dreaded the big holidays....I felt like I had prepared a message and service that was woefully inadequate.