Often, during this season, I am accused of being a bit of a scrooge. Previously, I have greeted such comments with a “ba humbug” and moved on. This year, however, I’m hoping to respond differently.
Let me just say that I’m not opposed to Christmas. There are elements of this “celebration” that I am very opposed to, such as us using the holiday to train our children in materialism, or making it about a cute little baby Jesus with no reference to sin, salvation, or that same Jesus’ atoning death and glorious resurrection. But, I’m not opposed to celebrating the condescension of my Lord and the wonderful declaration of Immanuel.
So this year, to help me “talk and think Christmas” like so many around me, I’ve enlisted some help. A couple weeks ago I purchased the new book Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus, edited by Nancy Guthrie. The work is a collection of short, Christmas-focused readings to help soften and prepare our hearts to celebrate the advent of our Lord.
The readings (22 in all) come from the works and sermons of such great Christian thinkers and preachers as Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, Martin Luther, George Whitefield, John Calvin, and Augustine. In addition to material from those historical figures, Guthrie also includes writings from modern Evangelical preachers and speakers such as J. I. Packer, John MacArthur, R. C. Sproul and Tim Keller. (Check out the entire list of authors here). Each reading is around 3-5 pages and makes a great supplement to your devotional time.
So, this month my morning devotions begin with a reading from this book. Thus far, I must say that I’ve really enjoyed reading through the worshipful reflections of these great saints. I’m hoping that thinking through these things each morning will prepare my heart and mind to engage with the celebrators of Christmas and respond more joyfully and graciously to their yuletide greetings.
Who knows, maybe this year a few sermons from the “ghosts of Christmas past” will help soften this scrooge’s heart!