By Joshua Franks
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Bruceton
Focal Passage: Luke 2:4-20
As a pastor, whenever I hear the word “tradition” it immediately makes me cringe a little bit. I hear voices in my head loudly proclaiming “We’ve never done it that way before!” Tradition can be the corpse of wisdom.
However, not all traditions are bad. They’re only bad when they obscure meaning and focus.
For example, I love Christmas. I love our Christmas traditions. I love all the foods that my wife prepares. I love all the songs my kids sing. We, like every other family, enjoy many Christmas traditions.
One of those traditions that we look forward to each year is watching A Charlie Brown Christmas together. Every December we gather around the television and watch as our favorite characters search for the true meaning of Christmas. And every year Linus wraps up the story by reading from Luke 2:8-14. Following this, he turns to Charlie Brown and says “And that’s the true meaning of Christmas.”
Of course, he is correct — kind of. Yes, the season is all about the birth of our Lord but there is a much fuller message that I fear gets lost in the hustle and bustle and traditions of Christmas. We’ve become so accustomed to the story that we lose sight of the meaning.
But there are two things that are on full display during the Christmas story that must not be missed: God’s glory and our peace. In the Christmas story the most remarkable thing that we see is that God has revealed His glory. It is the backdrop for the entire scene.
Luke 2:9 says, “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them.” God’s glory is the aurora that invades the scene. It is ever present. And it is the focus of the angelic song in Luke 2:14. It’s such a simple thing but it’s so easy to miss. The main theme of the Christmas message is that God has revealed His glory.
And because God has revealed His glory through Jesus, our peace is available. The most fundamental need we have is peace with God. We have all fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), but Romans 5:1 makes it plain that when we are justified by faith, we have peace with Him. This is the exact same message that was proclaimed by the angels. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased.”
Further, when this peace is received the response is always the same: God is glorified (Luke 2:20). The shepherds saw the infant Jesus, worshiped the Father, and shared the good news. Thus, the Christmas story becomes cyclical. God reveals His glory. We see and savor and proclaim it. And He is glorified even more.
There is no better way to sum up the meaning of Christmas than to say it is about God’s glory and our peace.
It’s about His majesty and our delight. It’s about His grace and our hope. The point of Christmas is that God is glorious and He wants us to know Him and praise Him for it. And that’s the true meaning of Christmas, Charlie Brown.
So, don’t let familiar traditions obscure the meaning and the message of Christmas this year. See His glory. Enjoy the peace that Jesus made possible. And share the good news with those around you.