I think we’ve almost deprived Christmas of its original meaning by making it a little too beautiful. In a way, we’ve stripped the Christmas story of its real power.
Even as we see it portrayed in art, the Nativity scene is pretty. But it wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was pretty bad. Jesus was laid in a manger, which also could have been a feeding trough for animals. It’s hard to imagine laying a precious newborn in such a place.
But for me, that doesn’t detract from the story of Christmas. In fact, it serves as a reminder of the great sacrifice God made to come to this earth. He made Himself small, born in the most humble and difficult circumstances.
Why? Because He loves us and longs for a relationship with us. Jesus was born so that we could be born again. He left His home in Heaven to make a home in our hearts.
He did not come to this earth so we would have an excuse to go into debt with all the shopping we do. He did not come so we could go to endless Christmas events and sing Christmas songs, although there’s nothing wrong with that.
Jesus did not come to teach everyone how to be good or to love our neighbors, even though these are good things to do. Rather, He came to die an agonizing death and to ransom us from an eternal death sentence.
The shadow of the cross lay over the beauty of the first Christmas night. It was there from the very beginning. That is why red is the color of Christmas. It isn’t because Santa wears red. Red is the color of the blood that Jesus shed for us on the cross.
What we’re really longing for is not Christmas but Christ, not presents, but His presence in our lives.