Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas is bigger than Easter

If you're someone who believes Jesus is a big deal, the title of this blog post is intentional click-bait. Of course Easter is a bigger deal than Christmas. We don't celebrate Christmas simply because some never-cries-because-he-is-perfect baby was born to usher in peace on Earth. We celebrate Christmas because it was the first step in a plan - God's plan that would lead to the death and resurrection of someone who lived a perfect life and didn't deserve to die, so that I wouldn't have to die despite my far-from-perfect life.

Christmas points to Easter.

But for our culture at large, Christmas is a far bigger deal. In fact, the whole Christmas season gets at least a month (for those who are hardcore about a "no Christmas until after Thanksgiving" policy), and sometimes even up to to three months (I saw Christmas decorations for sale beside Halloween candy in September this year). Christmas gets loads of TV specials and holiday classics. Every neighborhood has THAT guy who ruins it for everyone else by putting up every single inflatable Christmas decoration they can find (so that people like me and my wife and kids can clog up their neighborhood on our annual light-viewing drive around town). People get time off of work to travel or be with family, and kids get huge chunks of time off of school.

And what does Easter get? Candy made out of chalk? Ugly and disgusting marshmallow animals? A few cheesy commercials with weirdly cross-bred chicken rabbits? One or two simply terrible holiday classics? And maybe a day or two off from school?

Is this the best we've got?
I see Christmas as the gateway to Easter. Jesus came to seek and save those that were lost, and he accomplished it by dying and rising from the dead. He didn't come to Earth to give us warm fuzzy feelings, but to wash away the sin that separates us from a perfect and just God. He didn't come so that we could have peace on Earth, but so that we could have peace with the creator of the universe.

I used to feel so guilty celebrating Christmas for a month and Easter for a long weekend. Ultimately, Easter matters so much more to me... but Christmas matters so much more to my culture. Is it realistic to think I can elevate Easter over this month-long Christmas celebration? Am I willing to downplay Christmas to make this possible? If I alienate myself from my culture at Christmastime, won't I throw away my chance to reach them with Easter?

I talked it over with Heather and we agreed that we don't have to compromise. We can go all out for Christmas and stretch out our countdown over a whole month -- because that's the point of Christmas!

Christmas is about waiting. It's about the build-up. It's about the anticipation.

For those who experienced the first Christmas, the arrival of Jesus marked the end of hundreds of years of waiting. They were waiting for someone to rescue them from themselves and to set them free from the oppression of this world.

Sure, Christmas didn't bring that freedom. But it set the stage and began the process.

We will celebrate Easter in a big way. It was the ultimate act of love by God toward man. But we also won't shy away from celebrating Christmas. And we will celebrate it over a month or more, to remember the anticipation the people of Israel were experiencing as they awaited their Messiah. The wait was long and the joy of Christ's arrival cannot be overstated. So we're going to unashamedly make it big!

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