My Sri Lankan friend Prabo Mihindukulasuriya has the most amazing name ever. He also has keen insight. And he shares the following words about the birth of Jesus — as King — and how it ought to affect how we celebrate Christmas. It’s not nearly as austere as the most pious among us might expect.
The rest of this post is by Prabo:
Jesus spoke of his birth just once in the Gospels. To Pilate’s question, “So you are a king?” Jesus replied, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37a ESV).
A celebration of Jesus’ birth that truly honors him would naturally seek to reflect the significance that Jesus himself gave to it: He was born to be king and to bear witness to the truth.
In our anxiety to elevate Jesus above the seasonal hubbub, we often insist that the “real meaning” of Christmas is spiritual, not secular, traditional, nor commercial. But by doing so, we inadvertently deny Jesus’ kingship over the secular, traditional, and commercial – the very truth that he wants us to live by and proclaim!
That Jesus is king over all of life is the public truth that “everyone who belongs to the truth” (John 18:37b) abides by and rejoices over.
Jesus enjoyed celebration!
He welcomed the grateful adoration and worship of those he had changed. He intentionally received the hospitality and entertainment of both religious and non-religious hosts. His enjoyment of good food and drink did not go unnoticed. But what “everyone who belong[ed] to the truth” remembered and marveled at was the surprising ways in which Jesus turned those social events into occasions of realization and change.
How do we let God’s powerful presence shine in the public square and marketplace? How do our gratitude, contentment, and generosity guide our spending and socializing choices? How can we bring life and newness to traditions in a way that creates surprise and provokes thought?
True spirituality guides us to engage the secular, traditional, and commercial. Jesus is the focus of our celebration when we honor him as king and witness to the truth of his transforming rule.