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10 Christmas Lessons

As we lead up to Christmas, we wanted to share 10 reflections from theologians on the birth of our Savior. We hope you are using the Advent season to prepare your heart and focus on the real meaning for this season. As the carol says, “let every heart prepare him room.”

The True Meaning of Christmas

1. “[Christmas] means not just hope for the world, despite all its unending problems, but hope for you and me, despite all our unending failings.”

Tim Keller, Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ

2. “Our battle is to get underneath all the commercialism and consumerism, to actually experience Christ Jesus, our Savior, who has come — and who will come again.”

“To not lose the substance of Christ in the shadows of all the Christmas hoopla this season, we must seriously reflect upon this good news of great joy given to those in a broken world. It may feel counterintuitive to consider our brokenness during “the most wonderful time of the year.” But instead of merely distracting ourselves with the lights and the tinsel and the trees — things which are not bad in themselves — we should consider the reality of sin in order to remember why we need a Savior, to sit in darkness that we might marvel that the Light of heaven came down to earth.”

Matt Chandler, We Fall for the Feeling of Christmas

3. “The birth of Christ is the central event in the history of earth — the very thing the whole story has been about.”

C.S. Lewis Interview
Lorenzo Costa, Nativity (1490)

4. “Our culture has downgraded the Christmas stories into sweet little songs and primary-school Nativity plays. But the birth of a baby who will inherit “the throne of his ancestor David” —as the angel says to Mary in Luke 1:32—announces the start of a revolution.”

“The stories that begin at Christmas end with Jesus’ followers sent into the world to launch a new way of being human; a new kind of power; the divine power of self-giving love. Once we put Christmas back into its proper historical context we might just find that Christmas could reshape our own historical context. God knows we need it: the homeless asylum seekers, yes, and the rest of us too.”

N.T. Wright, The Revolutionary Politics of the First Christmas
Hanna Varghese, God Is With Us (2006)

Lessons from the Incarnation

5. “You cannot judge God by your calendar. God may appear to be slow, but he never forgets his promises. He may seem to be working very slowly or even to be forgetting his promises, but when his promises come true (and they will come true), they always burst the banks of what you imagined. . . . God’s grace virtually never operates on our time frame, on a schedule we consider reasonable.”

Tim Keller, Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ

6. “God could, had He pleased, have been incarnate in a man of iron nerves, the Stoic sort who lets no sigh escape Him. Of His great humility He chose to be incarnate in a man of delicate sensibilities who wept at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane.”

C.S. Lewis, Personal Correspondence

7. “A God who was only holy would not have come down to us in Jesus Christ. He would have simply demanded that we pull ourselves together, that we be moral and holy enough to merit a relationship with him.

A deity that was an ‘all‐accepting God of love’ would not have needed to come to Earth either. This God of the modern imagination would have just overlooked sin and evil and embraced us.

Neither the God of moralism nor the God of relativism would have bothered with Christmas.”

Tim Keller, Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ

8. “The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. They say that God became Man. Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this.”

C.S. Lewis, Miracles
James B. Janknegt, Nativity (1995)

9. “Everything in the Hebrew worldview militated against the idea that a human being could be God. Jews would not even pronounce the name ‘Yahweh’ nor spell it. And yet Jesus Christ—by his life, by his claims, and by his resurrection—convinced his closest Jewish followers that he was not just a prophet telling them how to find God, but God himself come to find us.”

Tim Keller, Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ

10. “In the swift-flowing river of commercialism and consumerism this Christmas season, in the hustle and bustle of buying and traveling and gathering, we need to drop an anchor. And I believe that anchor is essentially the practice of Advent. This traditional Christian season calls us to reflect on the brokenness of our hearts and of this world, and to look ahead to a day in which all that brokenness will be eradicated once and for all upon his return.”

Matt Chandler, We Fall for the Feeling of Christmas
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Nativity with San Lorenzo and San Francesco (1609)

References:
20 Quotes from Tim Keller’s New Book on Christmas
C.S. Lewis has a different take on Christmas. Here’s what he had to say
The Revolutionary Politics of the First Christmas
What CHRISTMAS means to me… (From God in the dock—Essays on Theology and Ethics)
We Fall for the Feeling of Christmas: The Subtle War in Our Celebrations