America’s largest Christmas tree is no longer found at Rockefeller Center in New York City. America’s tallest Christmas tree now resides in Enid, Oklahoma, standing at 140 feet, 75 percent taller than the Rockefeller Center tree.
Last year’s tree, dubbed the “Christ Tree,” was ringed with 20,000 multi-colored LED lights, decorated with 10,000 ornaments, and circled with 12 smaller trees. It is the center piece of “The One,” the city’s 42-day event featuring concerts, plays, and activities celebrating Christmas.
Kyle Williams, the entrepreneur behind “The One,” said, “Our main goal is to highlight the true meaning of Christmas: our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This tree reminds us of His greatness and it’s time to bring faith, hope, and joy back into the holiday season!”
Our main goal should be to live out the real meaning of Christmas as we journey through this December, making preparations and counting down till Christmas day.
The real meaning? “The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” (I John 4:14). How can we live out the real meaning of Christmas?
First, determine to keep Christ first in your Christmas. Make the season all about Him. Do not allow any event, responsibility, or expectation to squeeze Him out or place Him on the back burner. He’s the main event. Center every day of your life around Jesus.
Second, nurture your walk with Jesus every day. Along with my regular Bible reading, I’m reading through Luke’s gospel, one chapter a day for 24 days. I’m also reading several Advent devotionals daily. Reading and studying God’s Word are essential to spiritual progress.
Third, follow Mary’s and Joseph’s examples of obedience. The Christ-centered believer obeys God. When Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced she would be mother of Jesus, Mary naturally was troubled, but humbly accepted God’s assignment. Joseph also obeyed the Lord’s command (Matthew 1:24). Obedience fills the Christmas story. Obedience should fill our lives, also.
Fourth, be present every Sunday in corporate worship. Worshipping with other believers also nurtures your soul, encourages your heart, and pleases God.
Fifth, take time to ponder. Mary pondered the events leading up to the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:19): Gabriel’s visit with the stunning news; the shepherd’s coming after witnessing the angelic chorus; the arduous journey to Bethlehem; the moment she laid eyes on the infant Jesus. What amazes you about Christmas?
Sixth, practice kindness. The Christmas season is stressful for many. We have no idea what burdens people carry. Some are grieving. Others just got bad news on the health front. Be sensitive. Say “thank you” often, hold the door open for people, let drivers slip in front of you at the red light. How can you show kindness?
Seventh, remember our missionaries. Southern Baptists highlight our international missionaries during this season, praying for them and taking a special offering to support their work.
Eighth, remember your church. Be supportive and generous as you give of yourself to the Lord with your time, talents, and treasure. Help your church have a strong year-end offering. Do your part to help your church move forward and help carry the load.
Ninth, forgive quickly. Christ came to give us forgiveness, and He calls us to forgive one another. Don’t let bitterness and past hurts hinder your Christ-centered Christmas. Make the effort to mend a fractured relationship.
Tenth, remember the needy and lonely. Find a way to share with others, especially those who have fallen on hard times. Remember those who are alone, maybe homebound, or away from family members this year.
Eleven, intentionally share Jesus. We may find this hard to believe, but not everyone knows what Christmas is about or who Jesus is.
Many summers ago, for example, high school students from First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, Florida travelled to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The youth group met a teenage girl who asked, “What is your group doing here?”
The youth pastor responded, “We are here to help one of the local churches spread the good news about Jesus.”
Then came the two words that totally shocked these Bible-belt students: “Jesus who?” Catch the irony. They were standing in the city of Bethlehem and this girl asked, “Jesus who?”
How can you share Jesus this Christmas season?
[David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Georgia. Visit www.mcdonoughroad.org to view their 10 a.m. worship service online. Visit www.davidchancey.com to see Chancey’s other writings, including his newest book.]