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by DaySpring September 19, 2016
DaySpring is honored to partner with New York Times Bestselling Author Max Lucado - a well-known preacher with a storyteller's gift, a pastor's heart and a poet's pen. Max's message is simple: God loves you; let him. Max serves the people of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he has been on staff since 1988. He preaches and writes to the hurting, the guilty, the lonely, the discouraged.
In celebration of the launch of his new book “Because of Bethlehem,” we asked Max to share a little about his love for Christmas as well as his heart behind the new release with our DaySpring family. Enjoy!
Max, what do you love about Christmas?
There’s a lot I love about Christmas. I love mistletoe, I love eggnog, I love Christmas trees. I really love all of the festivities of Christmas. I get excited when November turns into December. Most importantly I love Christmas because this season invites people to ask the questions that matter. Why would Bethlehem happen? Why would God become a baby? What’s the significance of the incarnation? Why does it matter to me? The beginning of the gospel is the heart of Bethlehem.
The reason I love Christmas is because people who don’t ask those questions any other month are prone to ask those questions during the month of December. It’s a wonderful thing, even if you’re in a shopping mall, and you hear the songs like “Joy to the World,” “Away in a Manger,” and you realize, when people hear “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” they are hearing hope. For just a few moments, all of the rushing, and the scrambling, and even the fighting is prone to come to a stop. We stop and look at the baby in a manger, and we realize—this is a holy moment. I think that’s the reason that Christmas to me stands out as such a special, special time.
Why do you think Christmas matters to God?
The Christmas story shows what God values and what we value tend to be very different. We live in a throwaway world. We throw away our relationships, we throw away opportunities, we even throw away human life. We're busy, we’re acquirers, we’re working our way up the ladder. Many people, by the time they get to the end of their life realize they have thrown away everything that matters to them – the relationships, the opportunities, the faith. And they’ve exchanged that for something that’s unsatisfying, and very temporal.
God is not a throwaway God. If He creates a human life, that human life has value. So much so that He would send His Son to rescue every sinner who’s ever lived. Relationships matter to God, His relationship with us matters so much that He became human flesh. God became one of us so that we would never have the opportunity to say, “Well, He doesn’t understand me.” Of course God understands. He may not approve of what we choose to do, but He understands why we do the things we do, because He was a human being, too. Yet his value system is vastly different than ours. The good news is that when a person becomes a Christian, God takes up residence in their heart, and He begins changing their value system to reflect more and more of His value system. Christmas accentuates this difference between what God values and what we value.
You write in Because of Bethlehem that “Christmas begins what Easter celebrates.” Can you explain?
The reason I say Christmas begins what Easter celebrates is because, with no Christmas there would be no Easter. With no cradle there would be no cross. With no emptying of heaven, there would be no occupying of the throne in heaven by Jesus. For the Christian, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is the heart and core of the Bible, and is the heart and core of the God’s message. We have to have a baby Jesus before we can have a redeemed and reigning Jesus. Christmas begins what Easter celebrates. There's so much beauty in both of those wonderful celebrations that we can be equally grateful for them both.
What would you say to encourage people to have the spirit of Christmas all year long?
I think Christmas can affect us all year long if we allow the message of Christmas to be as rich during the summer as we do during the Christmas season. We should reflect all year upon the importance of the coming of Christ. The incarnation of Christ is a message that says that God became a human being, and He lived among us. It is so rich, so full of meaning. It reminds us that God loves us, God understands us, and God is an adequate sacrifice for us because He became one of us.
We can meditate on the story of Christmas all year long and benefit from it. I hope that we let the Christmas message change us all year long. Christmas is a season for giving, but so is November, and so is May. Every season of the year can be a season of giving. As we let the Christmas message define us and shape us, we become like Jesus, the greatest of givers.
What is your own favorite Christmas memory
I think my favorite Christmas memory might be the last Christmas that I had with my father before he passed away. I remember he had ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), and he was dying. At that point, he had suffered with the disease for two to three years. His body was very frail, wheelchair-bound, and he couldn’t do anything without help. I remember our family all being together with him for that last Christmas. I remember Dad received a new robe for Christmas, a beautiful red robe with his initials on it. Just being with him will go down as my favorite Christmas memory.
To read an excerpt entitled “Crown, Cradle, and Cross” from the book Because of Bethlehem, click here. To see the entire DaySpring/Max Lucado Because of Bethlehem Collection (including boxed cards, ornaments, advent calendar and gift bags), click here.
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Therefore encourage one another
and build each other up as you are already doing.
1 Thess 5:11 CSB