When you think of essential, what comes to mind? I think about oxygen. You take that away, and you are dead. I just left the hospital after visiting a lady who was attached to an oxygen tank. For her, if she doesn’t get oxygen, it’s a bad thing. For her, oxygen is essential.
Essential is defined as “of the utmost importance.” Synonyms might include basic, indispensable and necessary. We live in such a dispensable world. Anything that is dispensable is thrown out. Anything that is essential is kept.
One of our boys had a favorite Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal and a special blanket that tended to follow him everywhere. When we left the house, we had to have Pooh and blankie. When he went to bed, he had to have Pooh and blankie. For him, Pooh and blankie were essential (so essential that mom bought another identical pair).
But here’s the question: As we begin to focus on the Christmas season, how essential is Christ to Christmas? Is Christ something we can just throw out? Or something that must be kept?
In recent years, our culture has all but removed Christ from Christmas. It’s holiday celebrations. It’s holiday trees. It’s holiday parades. It’s everything but Christ-mas. But can you really remove Christ and still have Christmas?
Sure, you can celebrate Saint Nicholas and his generous giving spirit. In fact, Dec. 6 is the official Saint Nicholas Day. It’s interesting that we focus more on Saint Nick than we do on Jesus Christ. Did you know that there is very little historical documentation about Saint Nicholas?
But the legends of Saint Nick have flourished. Somewhere along the way, people began giving gifts in his honor. In Germany, he became known as Christkindl (Christ-child), which evolved into Kriss Kringle. Yet, most of it is all legend.
Essential is something of utmost importance. Instead of focusing all of our attention on the legendary stories of Saint Nick, why not focus on the real person of Jesus Christ? Christmas is more than giving gifts and singing carols. Christmas is the birth of the Jesus Christ.
God became flesh and dwelt among us. This is the essential truth of Christmas. He is the one who should be celebrated and worshipped. The holiday is even named after him. This season, why not remember the essential truth of who Jesus is and what Jesus did for you?
Pick up a Bible and read the story of Christ. Begin with the familiar birth narrative in Luke 2. But then go and read the Gospel of John. See the wonder, experience the awe, and remember the Christ.
How essential is Christ to Christmas? Indispensable.