There’s an old story about the demons wishing Satan a “Merry Christmas!”

Satan responded by saying, “It better stay merry or people will start to take it seriously.”

If the church ever takes Christmas seriously, the Gates of Hell better look out.

I shared last week that I was playing Santa for the first time in a long time. And I did or well, it was more like the Blonde did. She went and bought some Liberty overalls (the ones specified), size 40 x 31 (I know), and she wrapped them in a box for me like a real gift with some great plaid Christmas paper and two red bows. I hope this qualifies as taking Christmas seriously.

I’m an old, tired, cynical pastor or borders on the edge of being a Scrooge at this time of year. I love Jesus; it’s just His birthday that bothers me. One of the things that we do that makes me want to spit is the idea that we even celebrate His birthday, we make a big deal out of it when God has never told us to do that — does that make sense? We should celebrate Jesus, that’s for sure but His birthday — maybe not so much. From what I can tell, God wants us to make a big deal out of Jesus every day, so if we are going to decorate, we need to leave the decorations up year-round. Now that would be a Merry Christmas, and that would be taking Jesus seriously.

Mother Teresa was once asked, "How did you receive your call to serve the poor?”

She answered, “My call is not to serve the poor. My call is to follow Jesus. I have followed Him to the poor.”

That’s taking Christmas seriously.

John explained Christmas like this, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

Later he called Christmas (Jesus) the “Light” that “shines in the darkness (John 1:14 & 5).”

If we take Christmas seriously, we will follow the Light where ever it takes us. What I’m saying is we must go beyond the manger scene (Christmas) because Jesus is not in the hay; we must go beyond Good Friday because He’s not on the cross, and we must go beyond Easter because He’s not in the grave.

One of the things God told Joseph after Joseph found out Mary was pregnant was, “do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20).”

What are you afraid of? What is keeping you from following Jesus to places He goes?

The angel also told Joseph, “Immanuel,” which means God with us (Matthew 1:23). Hmmm, God IS with us. Not just in December and not just when we reduce Him back to being a baby, a little ceramic figurine asleep in the hay. Don’t be afraid to really celebrate Christmas, not only now but also later. He told me to tell you that.