Happy Birthday, Prince of Peace
You're invited to celebrate a life like no other.
Birthdays are like Christmas - only better. As a child, on October 23rd, I ate ice cream for breakfast, received privileges at school, and took a special shopping trip with Dad. Unlike Christmas Day, not only did I get presents, but no one else did. I, alone, was the important person of the day.
Birthdays are about a person
Even now, Mom reminds me of the day I was born. While she mentions the minute (6:13am to be exact), we rarely discuss the hospital or labor process. Instead of fixing on the event, we recall what’s transpired since then. Funny moments, sporting events, terrible school photos ... we talk about these things because a birthday is not so much about a moment in time. It’s not about the presents or treats, either. On the contrary, a birthday is about the celebration of a life.
A birthday is about a person.
Can you imagine that if the world celebrated the person, Jesus Christ, this Christmas? After singing about the star and the holiest of nights, imagine if we set everything aside with the sole aim to make much of Christ? Let me explain...
Jesus was more than a baby
Christmas represents the birth of a man named Jesus. Few people deny this much. However Jesus means for deeper things for the season than simply recalling who He was when he was born. Jesus means for a greater gift to thread the world - a living peace for each and every person ... all of us.
For years, I sang carols, opened gifts, went to church, and attended parties. I still do these things. But for a long time, I lived the Christmas season among the majority. The world paints us a picture like a card front. There’s a stable, a manger, sheep, and maybe a goat. Two persons gaze at a baby and there’s a star up above. This is a good start. But it is only just a start. I, too, gave little thought for the life of Jesus, in any special sort of way. One might even say I thought less of Christ on Christmas, than I thought of myself on my birthday.
Putting Christ back into Christmas
Quite unlike our personal birthday celebrations, why is it that Jesus is rarely given a thought on His? Sure, there will be parties, lots of sweets, and maybe even ice cream for breakfast. But seldom is there a great rejoicing over the baby boy who came; who was born our “Christmas” night.
Just imagine if you came to my birthday party, ate my cake and then proceeded to speak nothing of me for 364 days. Or imagine if you came without a single gift and then left with some of my presents! Imagine if you sang loudly, 'Happy Birthday to You', along with nearby family and friends... only to ignore me until the next festive season began?
We wouldn't want to be treated that way. And neither does Jesus.
The invitation with no strings attached
Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t respond to His guests as I would. While you wouldn’t be invited back to my party ever again, Christ is both good and forgiving. We are all invited back.
Not only does our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, and Everlasting Father invite us to come to His celebration after we ignore Him, but he says further, “Bring only you.” Jesus asks for nothing but ourselves. No presents. No cake. Just you.
Then, as if that weren’t enough, Jesus goes further. He gives us something for coming! Jesus gives us a gift for attending His celebration no matter the attention we’ve given Him. Jesus gives us Himself. Thinking of Christmas as a moment in time leaves us hurried, rushed, and tangled. We celebrate no different than those who disbelieve. But replying to Jesus’ invitation allows us to experience a peace which lasts longer than any holiday season. If we allow it, this peace lasts forever. Try it.
Celebrate with Jesus
So it’s clear: Christmas is a birthday. It’s a day about Person. The person is our Prince of Peace who left His place and who, even on His day, chose to come and be with you and me. Christ made His birthday about us, because He wanted us to participate. Jesus wants us to come and to celebrate with Him. Emmanuel, God with us.
Let's pray that each of us - and our friends and family - will come to the party this season. Not just for the treats but to celebrate a life. A life given for our sake.
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