Shepherding the Mystery of Christmas



Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love the food, gifts, music and culture that has grown up around Christmas. However, if you are anything like me, you can get so caught up in everything around Christmas that you struggle to keep your heart centered on what Christmas is truly about: the mind blowing reality that God entered into our world and history.

This post is not a rant about how American Christmas has lost its way and we need to change everything, because as I said, I love Christmas! What I want to do in this short post is present some ideas to entertain this Christmas to help you worship Jesus in a fresh way.

  1. Go to a Stable.

I love nativity scenes but often they seem like a piece of art rather than an actuality. So this Christmas I am encouraging you to go to a real life, active barn or stable. Take time to think about what it would be like to be born there. Smell the hay, the animals, the dirt. Then marvel that the God of the universe was born in a place like this.

  1. Engage relationally with people really different than you.

The birth of Christ is fundamentally about God pursuing a relationship with people who are alienated and hostile to Him. You may not have someone who you feel hostile toward, but perhaps you also never risk relationally. Most, if not all, of your friends agree with you politically, socially, and have the same taste you have. Why not use this opportunity to befriend someone who is Buddhist, atheist or Muslim. Why not choose to be the one who crosses the relational divide with someone who doesn’t know Jesus so you can be the incarnation of the gospel to them.

  1. Choose to worship with other believers on Christmas Eve.

I know you might be someone who does this already, but I grew up in a culture that didn’t do this. So when I did it for the first time in our church in Nashville I was pleasantly surprised by how I felt when we worshiped on Christmas Eve. I found myself feeling warm feelings toward my friends and toward Jesus that were different than at any previous worship experience. Since then I have made a commitment to always attend a worship service on Christmas Eve.

My hope is that this Christmas both you and I can embrace the mystery of God coming to earth in a new and fresh way. The only reason we have hope for this life and the next is through the incarnation of Jesus. May we enter fully into the hope promised by Jesus this Christmas season.

Written by Mike Harder

Mike was born and raised as a missionary kid in Bogota, Colombia. After moving to the states, Mike attended Northwestern College, St. Paul, Minn., and graduated with a B.A. in Church Ministry. He then moved to Memphis and earned a Master of Divinity degree from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Mike and his wife, Tabitha, and their two daughters, Abigail and Violet, live in Brentwood, Tenn. He has written two studies for LifeWay: In Transit: What Do You Do with Your Wait? and Jaded. His passions are coffee, friendships and basketball.