Cartoon Christmas. I’ve seen cartoons from various parts of the world become the highlight feature, the central figure of Christmas during Christmastime, whether in the Philippines during the Ber months, the Philippines, they start Christmas early and it’s glorious, all over the big city of Manila and other parts of the country. September, October, November, December.
Or Japan, another culture Christmas where only 1% or less are Christians, but there is a lot of sales and celebration of Christmas in Japan. In fact, the big electronics companies, that’s the season for their biggest sales and the biggest profits. Some time ago, my wife and I were in the beautiful Czech Republic in Prague. They have what’s called the central Wenceslas Square. It is beautiful, perhaps like no other Christmas village. It has the tree, it has the clock, it has the choir, it has the ballet performance. Absolutely delightful.
Culture must celebrate Christmas. There is an internal nostalgic reason for festivity that comes around that time. During the December solstice, the winter solstice, these kinds of traditions have gone for thousands of years. Instead of the humanizing of the divine, or the divinizing of the human, I want to speak to you about how Christians celebrate Christmas. Not in an amateur way, which is basically inept and incompetent.
Not in a premature way, which is unborn and not fully developed. Not in an immature way, which is foolish and childish, but in its full way as to what God had in mind for Christmas that when he had conceived it, when he had executed it, it was not simply for us to have a great time during Christmas, which we must to help the economy and enjoy the family. It had a deep sense of meaning.
We cannot reduce the mystery and turn it into magic. Instead, over these three times, I want to share in short video format the maximizing of the meaning by mission the mystery, maximizing the meaning of Christmas by missionizing the mystery of Christmas.
What a season this is. This is a time of decoration. I could talk about Martin Luther. Every time you put a little light on a fair, beautiful Christmas tree, he would say, Jesus is the light of the world. Or when you unwrap or wrap a gift, you can say, thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift , and Christians in history have done that.
There’s also the songs that can be sung, which mimic the earliest celebrations of Christmas. What I’d like to do is segue from that third thought of three carols, which have stood the test of time to capture the meaning and the mystery of Christmas so we can maximize it by missionizing it. To say we are missionizing it means that Christmas without mission is meaningless. It is minimized.
Three talks, three carols with Latin titles, and you will recognize them. You have sung the songs from the first couple of chapters of the Book of Luke. Luke, of course, was a physician.
He knew the intricacies of medicine, the need for deliberate discipline, preparation, training, research, data collection, and even expression. And he wrote this set of chapters for those of us a couple of thousand years later so that we, too can maximize the meaning. And embedded in the meaning is the missionizing the controlling influence of Christmas on our very being.
The first one comes from Luke chapter 1. There is the dialogue between the angel and Mary. That carol is called Ave Maria. It is a magnificent carol if you want to look it up on your search engine and play it.
Most people think it means Hail Mary, but really the angel was telling Mary something deeper and further, and very fearful, even. It means hail favored one. This is going to be a great situation, Mary. You are going to bring forth a son.
And Mary pushes back in the dialogue and says, how can I bring forth a son? I do not know a man. I’ve never known a man. And the angel now delivers, pardon the pun, the means by which Mary was going to bring forth a son as a virgin.
This son, there are about six or seven descriptions of the son, he will be called the son of the most high. And the power of the most high will come upon Mary and the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit by which the Virgin birth would happen. What an incredible, singular, exclusive unique event in all of history to say that God became man. Ave Maria, hail favored one.
Mary is filled with joy, and praise, and caution, and fear because multiple factors are at work. She thinks through what is happening. It finally results in what is called the Magnificat and she reflects on Gods history with the people of Israel and how she is going to bear the Messiah.
But in missionizing Christmas, in missionizing the mystery, I want you to look at that phrase, most high, most high one, most high God. Now that phrase came to be in language way before Israel became a nation. In Genesis chapter 14, Abraham meets Melchizedek, the priest of the most high.
El Elyon meant he is the high one, the transcended one, the far one who still relates to the human race. That he’s the one who’s created humanity, he’s the one who carries humanity. This God is a global God, not some local deity.
Mary and the Jews, they really had a problem. They thought this God would only be theirs. But in the very name of the Father of the Lord Jesus is most high the global God because Jesus is the global Savior. To missionize Christmas means that we present the Lord Jesus not as some local, time-bound Savior.
It’s for the entire human race, whatever caste, and creed, and culture, whatever language, whatever background, whatever religion. This Lord Jesus is for the whole world the global God. If we don’t celebrate him as the global God, if we don’t communicate him as the global God, we’re nothing but amateurs, prematures, and immatures. Let me repeat that last line. If we do not celebrate him as the global God, we have an amateur, premature, immature celebration of Christmas.
There’s a fable which talks about an elephant in the river and a mouse on top of the elephant, which keeps yelling into the elephant, get out of my river. Get out of my river. And the elephant continues to lumber in the river. And the mouse says, get out of my river, get out my river.
And the elephant, finally, to have some peace, walks out of the river and says, what in the world are you saying, mouse? And the mouse says, oh, I just wanted to see if you or wearing my clothes, my bathing suit. An elephant wearing a bathing suit, the clothes of a mouse is not as much as a mystery as God becoming human so that we can have God in our lives.
We maximize the meaning of Christmas by missionizing mystery of Christmas. Let the whole world know about this global God, the global Savior, the global Jesus.