Friday, December 19, 2008

A Promise Kept

A Christmas Devotion

Christmas is a time of tradition. Each family, and sometimes,each individual has different traditions that they hold dear when it comes to Christmas. In the United States some of the common traditions that are shared between families are gift exchanges, brightly decorated trees (though more and more are artificial), parties with family and friends, Christmas programs at church.

For me, some of my cherished Christmas traditions are Dad reading the Christmas story from the Bible (I am partial to the account in John 1; In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…) before opening presents, oyster soup (though it is an ongoing debate whether it is soup or stew) on Christmas Eve before going to the Christmas Eve service, watching Christmas with the Joker with my nieces and nephews (nothing celebrates the birth of Jesus like a little Batman); and buying books for my nieces and nephews to help pass on my love for reading. I think one of the reasons we like Christmas is the security we have in our traditions.

We live in a time, especially in the Church, where tradition isn’t always appreciated. There is nothing wrong with traditions. Traditions can play a very important part in our lives, for they can help focus our attention when we are distracted. That is why God provided the Israelites with so many holy days and feast, to help them focus on what was important. God has even given the Church two important traditions to help us focus on what is important: baptism and communion. When used properly traditions play a very important part in our lives.

That is is the key: when used properly. We know that the Israelites fell into the trap of focusing on the tradition, rather than looking beyond the tradition to what the tradition was pointing towards. I think the same danger plagues Christians when it comes to Christmas. We get so caught up in the traditions of Christmas that we forget that ultimately Christmas is to remind us of the God who keeps His promises.

From Genesis 3:15 through the Old Testament we read of God’s promise to do what was necessary to make things right. Abraham, Moses, David, and all the prophets played significant roles in reminding the people of God’s promise. It was a long time in coming, but eventually, at just the right time, God kept His promise.

In Matthew 1:22 we read these great words: All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet. Christmas should point us to God, and the fact that He has been working through history to restore His creation. The birth of Jesus is evidence that God has kept His promise in the past, so we can trust Him to keep His promise in the future.

Don’t allow your Christmas traditions distract you from worshipping the promise keeping God to believe in. Take some time during the holiday rush and focus on God and the evidence of His promise kept: Christ Jesus our Lord.

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