Are you looking to have an awesome Christmas this year? A Christmas that will have meaning? I know I am. This past month I researched Christmas, that’s kind of funny to say, we all know Jesus was born and it’s about His birthday. But I sought out more understanding of Christmas and how I can make it more meaningful. Who knew it has to do with our own personal identity? Buckle up for an ‘Ah ha’ moment and 3 amazing tips!
What’s up with ‘Merry Christmas’?
In 1843 it was Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” that introduced the word ‘Merry’ for “Merry Christmas”. The dictionary defines Merry as cheerful and lively. Occasionally you’ll hear “Happy Christmas”, but “Merry” fits the bill. The word “Christmas” originated from “Christ’s Mass” which literally means a group of many people gathering to celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th. In fact, this celebration started in 313 AD, three centuries after Jesus’s crucifixion. Interesting isn’t it?
The history of gifts
For most people, Christmas’s meaning equals presents. Gifts are fun! Even for those who are hard to buy, yes, it’s a fun challenge. How did gift-giving come into play on Christmas? Well, it’s not a black-and-white answer:
1– It started in Europe as a pagan custom around the Winter Solstice, a celebration to mark the shortest day of the year. It falls in the range of December 20th-23rd each year. At this time ancient Rome would celebrate this day by gift-giving.
2– Around 336 AD December 25th was established as Jesus’s birthday in which the solstice gift-giving tradition leaked into the Christian holiday. Some believe that gift-giving started with the three Magi (wise men) giving gifts to baby Jesus.
3– On top of that, Santa Claus was introduced by a fourth-century Greek bishop who was a gift giver, Saint Nicholas. His legacy gradually blended into the Christmas celebration.
So “Merry Christmas” is a combination of things, but one thing is for sure, “Christ’s Mass” has stood the test of time. Jesus came to save us from our sins so we would have the opportunity to have life after death. “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost”, says Jesus. And in Mark 10:45 Jesus also says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
How serving others comes into play
A few years ago I read Matthew Barnett’s book The Cause Within You. He talks about his experience of listening and obeying God’s cause that He placed in his heart. Based in LA, he tells great stories about how people off the street, the homeless, the drug dealers, and prostitutes have completely turned their life around by focusing on Jesus and the cause God placed in their hearts. How serving others, rather than serving themselves and their addictions have changed their life.
He says, “As soon as you start thinking about the needs and burdens of others, and what you can do to alleviate them, or how you can bless and build up others, you begin to establish a new identity for yourself – your true identity. “ (page 38) This brings on meaning! Meaning for living.
Think about that for a minute. Christmas is the most popular time of year to give; not just presents. Just look at the Christmas movies: It’s a Wonderful Life, Elf, or even Die Hard. Yes, I just referenced Elf and Die Hard in the same sentence. But hear me out, they all have something in common.
Time is of the essence
Let me ask you this, what do you think would be a powerful way to celebrate the birth of Jesus this year? Sure we can give tangible gifts or donate money to a cause, those are fantastic ideas! But what about your time? Your precious time?
What about sacrificing a slice of your time and putting your talents to work to take the burden off someone else? Helping a neighbor with a project? Lifting someone up with a little encouragement? You might say, “But I do that already Christy” But do you do it with Jesus in mind? Do you consciously say, “Hey Jesus, let’s bless someone today! Use me. Work through me. Let’s do this!”?
I love this statement from Rick Warren, “What matters is not the duration of your life, but the donation of it. Not how long you lived, but how you lived.” In the Bible, 1 Peter 4 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” But here’s a bonus in all this. If you think serving is just for the person being served, you’re missing it.
What does serving do for you?
Serving others produces being Merry. It gives you meaning and purpose…do I dare say dream life? Serving mysteriously produces a deep joy in your heart.
1 – To serve others gives significance. Putting our talents to work to help someone else is meaningful for us. It warms the cockles of God’s heart. And generates joy in your own.
2 – It produces gratitude both for the servant and the person being served.
3 – Serving brings us back to earth. Serving helps take the focus off what’s going on inside us, to what’s going on around us. This helps us put our own lives in perspective, need I say, to learn more about ourselves.
3 Tips on serving others:
1. The Golden Rule. Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
2. Vision yourself helping.
3. Pray for opportunities in which you can help someone out.
Wrapping up Christmas and serving others
I have an experiment for you to try this month to gain more meaning in this holiday. I bet you know what it is. Serve with the mindset as giving a gift to Jesus; use your time, talents, and strength to give back to Him. Not sure where to serve? Don’t make this complicated. Open your eyes and pay attention to your surroundings. He’ll tell you.
One more thing, I encourage you to experience a “Christ’s Mass” and attend a Christmas Eve service at church this year.
Before you go check out these other great posts:
By CT Copyright © 2018 More Than Existence, All Rights Reserved.