How do you get into the Christmas spirit? Each December, I face that same question as I prepare to teach my Sunday school class. I want to give my class something that will inspire them, something that will cause them to discover the spirit of Christmas in their lives each year. But how? What are the keys to unlocking Christmas Spirit?
Pastors must ask that same question as they prepare their Christmas sermons. What are they going to say that is inspired, anointed, and will make a real difference in the lives of their parishioners? And those parishioners are wondering what their pastor is going to say to get them in the Christmas spirit so they can enjoy, rather than just endure, the season (and their relatives).
As I studied the Christmas story, it wasn’t long before I began to discover that the secret to finding Christmas spirit lay in the lives of the first Christmas participants. Of course, Christmas had not been invented yet for Mary and Joseph. They were preparing for the arrival of Mary’s firstborn son—the Son of God. But everything that we celebrate at Christmas truly begins with the arrival of Jesus in our lives, so there must be something in their lives from which we can discern Christmas spirit.
Listening to coworkers and friends, I heard the disappointment in their voices as we talked about Christmas. Without Jesus in their celebration their Christmas was mostly about family, and if their family was gone (or estranged), what was the point? It really is true: if all we do is pull out the same decorations, put up the same tree in the same corner, with the same wreath on the same front door, we will get the same result—no lasting Christmas joy. Their disappointment is that you can do Christmas things but still fail to see Christmas spirit in your heart.
So I began to study Christmas through the eyes of the first Christmas story participants. What were they focused on that first Christmas and what do their lives teach us about finding the true spirit of Christmas in our own? Year after year I taught a new Christmas lesson with a new revelation of Christmas spirit. It wasn’t long before newer members of the class heard about previous Christmas lessons and wanted me to reteach those to them. But as you can imagine, there is just never enough time to go back and teach all of those lessons, so the idea of the book was born.
At its heart, Through the Eyes of Christmas is a series of Christmas Sunday school lessons (or if you prefer, Christmas sermons) that redirect our focus at Christmas. It reveals keys to unlocking the true spirit of Christmas in your heart by looking through the eyes of the first Christmas story participants.
But did you know Christmas is more than just Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the manger? There are shepherds who teach us about the joy of Christmas spirit when we share that message with others. There are wise men who teach us about worshipping which ushers in Christmas spirit. There are Simeon and Anna, who teach us you are never too old for Christmas. And since I teach an adult Sunday school class with many senior saints, that is one of their favorite Christmas lessons. There is Jairus, the ruler of the Capernaum synagogue who teaches us how to believe in Christmas. And let’s not forget Zachariah and Elizabeth who were expecting Christmas. You will just have to read that chapter to find out why.
Then there is that needful thing: Christmas dinner. And that lesson I learned from my beautiful wife. Like Martha’s cumbered about with much doing, our Christmas morning had slipped away, the guests for Christmas dinner would soon be here, and my wife was busy trying to do too much in the kitchen by herself. Yes, it was time to stop playing with the toys and help. The needful thing that Christmas was to help her bring the Christmas feast to the table so everyone, especially the cook, could enjoy the celebration of Jesus’ coming.
So go grab a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate, find your favorite chair, sit down and join me on a journey back into the lives and thoughts of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the innkeeper, wise men, and a few other specially placed “Christmas” people. As we look Through the Eyes of Christmas, we will discover the Biblical truths to birth in our hearts the true, lasting joy that comes with the spirit of Christmas. And when we are done you too will know how to keep Christmas well.
Ron Davis, Through the Eyes of Christmas: Keys to Unlocking the Spirit of Christmas in Your Heart (Nashville, TN: Elm Hill, 2018).