By: Joseph Crump, pastor of Effingham ARP Church
If someone asked you, “What does Christmas mean to you?” You might reply with any number of responses. Small children might say, “Presents!” Older family members might say, “Presence,” meaning children coming home and extended family or friends coming to visit. Some people think of traditional foods or decorations, and for some, the pains of life are magnified by the absence of a loved one, or even love or familiarity that has never been there. Some people are moved emotionally through the music, holiday lights or even smells of things that evoke fond remembrances of days long gone.
I would say that “presents” and “presence” are both a very important part of Christmas. The world received the greatest present in the person of Christ Jesus, his incarnation was both miraculous and necessary, if we are to escape the curse of death. The presence of the Trinity in our life is of utmost importance, and without it, Christmas means nothing. There is also another presence that we must be aware of as we celebrate Christmas, and that is the presence of the dragon. He is present (Obvious/not obvious) throughout the scriptures as we see him in the beginning as a serpent in the garden who has later grown in the book of Revelation to be a great dragon.
This great dragon is pictured in the book of Revelation 12:4, as trying to devour the women’s child at his birth; this is his attempt to kill the newborn Jesus which we see referenced in Matthew 2:16. Victory over this dragon is seen in Revelation 12:5, as the child is snatched up to God and his throne. The evil one is always trying to defeat the work of God but is not victorious. This is the very reason that Christmas exists, the celebration of the coming of Jesus. He came to do the will of the Father, and specifically, in 1 John 3:8, “The reason that the Son of God appeared was to destroy the work of the devil.”
“From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another,” John 1:16. In this fullness we find the foundation stone of the good things in our lives and culture. Things that we seemingly take for granted that are found in the foundation in a Judeo-Christian system of values such sanctity of life from birth to death, the laws of the land which find their root in the law of God, the forgiveness for ins, and the ability to forgive others. The very realities that men have been created equal and have been endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, freedom, and value have been given to us by a savior. We have value because He says so.
“Let us thank God for his indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15. May we receive the “present” that God has given to us of Christ Jesus, and may we practice living in his presence, becoming more and more likened to his presence and in doing so we will know how to battle the serpent who becomes the dragon.
Holy Jesus ev’ry day keep us in the narrow way.
And when earthly things are past, bring our ransomed souls at last.
Where they need no star to guide, where no clouds thy glory hide.
(As With Gladness Men of Old 1860)