Lights strung, ornaments hung and carols are sung? Check. Food prepared, cheapest airfare and stockings hung with care? Check. Presents bought, the fire's hot and you've checked everything off your list without a second thought. You make your list and check it twice to ensure that the holidays will be nice.
But are you checking your list twice for the reason why?
You'll go to the Christmas Eve service, listen to the story of how Jesus was born. Maybe you'll go because your family has always gone. Or maybe you'll go because it's what a "good person" does for Christmas.
You might get out the nativity scene that you packed away last year, unwrap all the figurines and set them up on the mantel or a shelf. The shepherds, wise men, Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.
This is probably the closest encounter many will have with Jesus.
I know that's a bold statement, but it's unfortunately true. Unwrapping baby Jesus from the old newspaper and setting Him in the manger each year is all some people know about Jesus. OK, maybe it's not all they know, but it's close.
If you ask about anyone why we celebrate Christmas, you'll probably hear "Jesus is the reason for the season" or "It's when Jesus was born." Jesus is the reason for the season, but there's more to it than that.
We focus so heavily on the birth of Jesus during Christmas that we forget about the reason why His birth is important.
We celebrate His birth annually, but we just focus on the baby Jesus. We don't stop to think about the rest of His life. Or worse yet, we just focus on checking off the items on our to-do lists.
We get so wrapped up in how we've always celebrated Christmas or how we think Christmas ought to be celebrated. Making Christmas "merry and bright" or "picture perfect" is what we inevitably do and don't even realize it.
Why not start a new tradition and add something new to your Christmas to-do list?
I know, you've already got a lot to do during the holiday season. The checklist gets overwhelming, stressful and often expensive. But I promise you that it won't take much time and it's free.
Just take a moment to reflect upon why Jesus is the reason for the season. Find the reason why His birth is so important instead of blindly saying "Happy Birthday, Jesus" each year. He was born years ago, so He's not a baby anymore.
Without His birth, we wouldn't have the resurrection.
Pretty obvious, but I bet you never thought of it before. Without the birth of Jesus, we wouldn't have redemption for our sins. We wouldn't know what perfect love is. We would be lost without a connection to that perfect love.
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." — John 14:6
I'll be blunt — you have no excuse this year. If you have the time to read this article, you have the time and resources to learn about the life of our savior. Want to try and find an excuse? You don't have the time, you already know about Jesus's life or you don't know where to start.
Stop. You have to make the time, you can't possibly know everything about another person's life and I'll give you a hint of how to get started — pray. It's as simple as that.
"But I've never prayed before, it's been a long time since I've prayed or I don't know what to say."
Guess what — God doesn't care. God understands your prayers even when you don't have the words to say, He hears your silent prayers and He answers every question. Granted, it may not be the answer we want, but I can promise you that He will give you the answers you need.
Go ahead and make your Christmas list this year, but check it twice for the reason why.