By the Book: Sharing the spirit of Christmas year-round
by Anthony Cook
acook@annistonstar.com
Dec 24, 2011 | 1616 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
We’re just hours away from what is without question the most anticipated day of the year.

This time of year is a time of awe and wonder and splendor and good will.

It’s a time that tends to bring out the kid in all of us.

What I especially love to see is the widespread spirit of giving.

Donations at the local charities go up.

You hear stories about philanthropists anonymously paying off layaways for people they never met.

At my job, we’re conducting a coat drive, and we’ve already refilled the collection bin twice.

And, best yet, I was in line the other day at the Chick-Fil-A drive thru in Oxford, and when I got to the window, the car in front of me had already paid for my meal and had asked that I do the same for the car behind me. I did.

I participated this week in the annual Angel Tree distribution with the Salvation Army, where they give out toys to families with children who might not otherwise get anything for Christmas.

It’s the Christmas spirit, and it’s a wonderful thing, but why does it have to be seasonal?

What if people held the door for each other in April?

What if people were considerate and giving in June?

What if people smiled and greeted each other in October?

What if people sang “Jingle Bells” in March?

What if people committed random acts of kindness for total strangers in February?

What if we made gingerbread cookies in May?

What if the Christmas spirit lasted all year long?

I was listening to internationally known minister John MacArthur on the radio the other day, and he pointed out that there’s a great irony in the world today.

Many people want to celebrate the birthday; they just don’t want to celebrate the one who was born.

And even those of us who are Christians sometimes opt for conveniences that ensure God’s Christ doesn’t get in the way of our Christmas.

But if Christians don’t make worshipping Christ the focus of Christmas, then who will?

I think where we go wrong is when we focus on and celebrate the EVENT of the birth of Jesus and not the PURPOSE of the birth of Jesus.

The event told of angels appearing and a star moving and kings plotting and a virgin conceiving and faithful people obeying. It’s the greatest story ever told. And every detail of it had been foretold in prophecy.

The event was noteworthy as a demonstration of the great lengths that God went to in order to preserve the integrity of his word.

But even greater than the execution of the event was the purpose of the event.

The angel told Joseph this child would be called Jesus because he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21) The name “Jesus” is literally translated “Salvation from Yahweh.”

It’s not just a name; it’s his purpose, his identity.

The true spirit of Christmas comes not only from knowing the story about that baby who was born all those years ago, all those miles away, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

The true spirit of Christmas comes from having forgiveness and salvation from the God who became a man, so man could kill God, so God could save man.

So let’s smile and hug each other in March.

Let’s sing “Jingle Bells” in July.

Let’s hold the door for each other in April.

Let’s be considerate and giving in June.

Let’s commit random acts of kindness for total strangers in February.

Let’s make gingerbread cookies in May.

Let’s have and share the spirit of Christmas every day of the year.

Merry Christmas.

Managing Editor Anthony Cook is the pastor at Christian Fellowship Bible Church in Anniston. Reach him at acook@annistonstar.com or 256-235-3558.
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By the Book: Sharing the spirit of Christmas year-round by Anthony Cook
acook@annistonstar.com