The Correct Way to Approach Christmas
December 10 2010 by D.E. Parkerson

I get excited every time the weatherman predicts snow. That is because I have a little kid living on the inside of me. Unfortunately it seldom snows where I live. In Wilmington, N.C., our schools close within 30 minutes after the first snowflake falls. Kids are so excited that there would be no need to continue classes.

Children who live where it frequently snows during winter find this kind of precaution both needless and humorous. They wait until at least several inches of snow have fallen to call off school. Among the many things they do to enjoy the snow is to roll the snow into a ball and push it down the hill. The farther down the hill it rolls the bigger the snowball gets and the more other things are added to it.

At the beginning the snowball picks up grass stems and leaves, then small sticks, and later bigger sticks and even stones. These added things are foreign to it, and make it larger, but they detract from its purity and beauty.

In the same way, as Christmas has been rolled down through the centuries, it has gathered numerous foreign things which really do not belong to it. These are accretions, things it has gathered down throughout two millennia — the tradition of Santa Claus, Christmas trees, toys, dinners, presents and parties, etc.

None of these accretions were included in the original Christmas. They are not necessarily bad in and of themselves — that is, unless we put more emphasis upon these additions to the season than upon the essential meaning of Christmas — which is adoration of the Son of God who was born in Bethlehem. If we ever totally lose the spirit of adoration, we will have forgotten what this holy season is all about.

Luke 1:39-55 records the lovely song that Mary sang (the Magnificat) when she first learned that she had been chosen to be the mother of the King of Kings. Her magnificent prayer teaches us that genuine worship and prayer always includes:
  • Submission. Mary submitted herself to the will of God. This is a vital element of both worship and prayer. The true purpose of prayer is not to badger God into doing OUR will, but to submit ourselves to HIS divine will. Jesus made this clear in His prayer in Gethsemane, “If it be possible let this cup pass from Me. Nevertheless, not as I will but as You will.”
  • Gratitude. Gratitude, an inner feeling and attitude of the heart, is best expressed in thanksgiving and praise. To lose one’s attitude of gratitude is to become so self-centered that we take for granted all the blessings of God.
  • Intercession. In intercessory prayer we pray for others. We rise above the level of seeking things solely for ourselves to seek them for others.
  • Adoration. Mary’s song begins with pure adoration, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Selfless adoration has a cleansing, invigorating power that we can get in no other way.
It is in the spirit of submission, gratitude, intercession, and adoration that every Christian should approach the celebration of the Savior’s birth. All the other things that surround Christmas are unimportant and totally secondary by comparison.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Parkerson is a native of Georgia, a graduate of Mercer University [B.A.], Southeastern Seminary [M. Div. and Th.M.], and Campbell University [D.D.]. He has served as pastor of one church in Georgia and five churches in North Carolina. Following retirement as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Sanford on Sept. 30, 1996, he has served nine North Carolina churches as interim pastor. His column, The Paper Pulpit, has appeared weekly in a few newspapers and other publications since 1958. He and his wife, Jessie, live in Wilmington near their daughter and family.)    
12/10/2010 2:44:00 PM by D.E. Parkerson | with 2 comments

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12/23/2010 11:12:20 AM