How do you express Christmas greetings in your culture?
Joyeux Noël or Bonne fête de Noël is one of the traditional ways to express Christmas greetings here in France. Each country, each people group has a way that is specific to their culture by which they celebrate Christmas. It may be as a family around a barbecued meal on the terrasse or as a large group of believers, all seated together on a large ornamental rug, sharing a common meal, in the warmth of a small apartment.
Whatever means by which one celebrates Christmas, there is one common element or theme: Jesus-Christ. We celebrate the incredible event of the incarnation which marks the beginning of God’s long determined plan of bringing people, His people back to Himself.
As we meditate on God becoming flesh in order to save us from our sins and wrongs, let me suggest three questions to guide our reflection.
What helps us to grasp more deeply the meaning of Christ’s coming in our celebration of Christ’s coming in our own culture? There are probably several ways that we, in our own culture celebrate Christmas that actually put the focus more on our own lives and comforts than it does on Jesus Christ. Doing a spiritual triage allows us to hold more strongly onto Jesus rather than ourselves.
In the adopted culture where you find yourself, what helps you grasp more deeply the meaning of Christ’s coming? I am regularly amazed at insights that I pick up from the adopted culture in which I live, and from other cultures that are different from my own. God seemingly offers new insights from these cultures which can orient our hearts even more to the heart of God that sent His Son into the world for us.
How should we pray for those who have limited or no access to the message of the Incarnation; of this Jesus who came to seek and save the lost? How easy it is, even as cross-cultural workers, to get caught up in the joy and celebration of Christmas and forget that there are many who have no connection to a believer close by and have no opportunity to hear the joyous message announced to shepherds. We should ask ourselves: How can our Christmas celebrations include a time of prayer for the nations (Luke 2:32)?
May your Christmas celebration be filled with His joy, marked by a desire to know His heart more, and includes a time to plead with our Father to bring the light of Christ to the nations!