What makes Christmas … well, Christmas? Is it the wonderful music, the gifts, the food, the lights, or the cold nip in the air?
What if all of those were taken away?
Even before I became a Christian, Christmas was a special time for me. I remember the yuletides in my childhood home in Scotland and Rhodesia. My parents weren’t believers, but this time of year was a big deal! We would snack on traditional Scottish treats: scones, teacakes, ecclefechan tarts (pronounced “Ekel-fek-an”), and my personal favorite—haggis.
The sights, the sounds, the joyful colors—I loved Christmas! It wasn’t until I became a Christian later in life that the magnitude of what this celebration was about truly struck me. I remember being flooded with emotion as I realized that Christmas is a poignant reminder of what Jesus came to this earth to do.
This Christmas, I am thinking about the MAF staff around the world who are not able to enjoy the “trappings of Christmas” as we know it in America and Europe. The majority of them live south of the equator, so Christmas falls during their summer. Spruce and fir trees are replaced by palms and other tropical plants. Sweaters are replaced with shorts. Perhaps more notably, most of them live in countries where Christians are the minority—so there are few reminders of Christ’s birth.
These MAF missionaries and their families have given up many of the accoutrements of this wonderful season. But they have done so in order that other people around the world can experience the love of Jesus Christ.
Stepping into someone else’s world to give the gift of Jesus … if that’s not what Christmas is about, then I am not sure what is.