What are the signs which point to Christmas coming?
In every culture there are different visuals which alert us to the coming of this holiday season.
When I first moved to South Africa, Christmas snuck up on me because I did not see the normal American signs. Once I learned the new signs, I could anticipate its approach.
Here are a few signs which pop up in virtually any culture.
1. Things appear. Things which are unable to be found for most of the year, begin to appear around Christmas. Certain music, different types of food, and of course decorations. It is the time of year some people appear in church for the first time all year! Each nation is different, but all have things which appear.
2. Gifts. Some are large, some small, and many spread the giving over multiple days. Whatever the style, Christmas seems to universally include gifts. Children line up to meet Santa Claus or Father Christmas and make their requests known, provided they have been more nice than naughty.
3. Wrapping. More than any of other holiday or celebration, gifts are wrapped in elaborate packaging. A quick google search reveals this to be a huge industry, netting 2.6 billion USD per year. Some estimate the amount of paper thrown away could encircle the globe over 9 times! (226,800 miles of discarded paper)
These are the signs of Christmas which tell us it is nearly upon us.
But these are not the true reality of Christmas, yet they point us to what Christmas is all about. Here are three signs the TRUE meaning of Christmas HAS come.
1. Jesus appeared. Titus 2:11 says, “the grace of God appeared bringing salvation for all people.” Just as certain foods or decorations appear at Christmas, it reflects the true appearing which occurred. Grace came. Jesus appeared. God came to Earth.
2. Jesus gave himself as a Gift. As we exchanged gifts with loved ones, it points us to the true gift which Christmas represents. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,…”
Only this gift is not based on being naughty or nice. That represents wages or what is due to us. The true gift an act of grace from God to us. We were all naughty. Jesus, unlike Santa Claus, does not weigh out the good from the bad. Rather, he forgives us and gives us what we need to learn how to be “nicer”, even though we will never perfect this.
3. Christ Wrapping Himself in Humanity. Philippians 2:6-8 describes the ultimate act of humility, when Jesus took the form of a man. “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,…” Other versions say he “wrapped himself in humanity.” Creator God taking on the form of the creation, wrapping himself in weakness. Wow!
As we see the signs of Christmas appearing, the exchanging of gifts, and the wrapping of presents; they all stand as reminders to point us to the true reality Christmas brings.
In other religions, you must appease the angry and distant gods with gifts.
In Christianity, Jesus appeared and came near, giving us the gift of salvation, as he wrapped himself in humanity.
This is the true sign of Christmas.
What other signs in your cultures or nations are signs of Christmas that point to the true meaning?
Photo by: Peter Köves via photopin cc This post first appeared on A Life Overseas.