I get concerned with how we romanticize Christmas and the manger. Forget about how Santa Claus has impinged on the significance of Christmas and consider what we do to it. We aren't even accurate. Joseph and Mary weren't poor. They were in a manger out of desperation because there was no more room in the town, not because they had no money. And there were not three wise-men at the scene. First, they showed up about two to three years later at Joseph and Mary's home, and second, we have no idea how many there were. But there inaccuracies are nothing compared to what all our private and public manger scenes do to the way people see Jesus.
When we celebrate Christmas we are not celebrating a baby but God's insertion of himself into his own creation. We celebrate the King of kings, Jesus, who became the firstborn of the new creation. We celebrate the risen Lord, who sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us. We celebrate what the Father has done for us through the Son:
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)
That fullness happened through the Spirit at Jesus' point of baptism when the Spirit came upon him. Not a symbolic gesture but the empowering of the Spirit so Jesus could fulfil his mission. The same Spirit Jesus sent to us so we could have the fullness of God to fulfil our mission.
There is more going on than we realize. We keep emphasizing what Jesus has done for us, and we should, but the reconciliation through Jesus was for all things. The Word here stressing that this included all things whether they be on earth or things in heaven. Something beyond our comprehension started that first Christmas morning. It started in the form of a baby but did not stay there so we should not be celebrating a baby on Christmas, but the complete work of Jesus Christ.
Christmas must also be a celebration of the cross and the empty grave. If all God did was become one of us it would have been a wondrous thing but absolutely useless to us. The fact that he became one of us to die for us, to free us from the dominance of sin, and to kick open the door to eternal life is what we are celebrating. We celebrate the birth, the death and the rebirth on Christmas morning and we celebrate the most incredible, powerful, giving, forgiving, merciful, compassionate, supreme Lord of earth and heaven. The Father has placed everything under his feet.
Let's not romanticize any part of Christmas. December 25th is just a date we chose to mark the beginning of a complete package of God's plan. There are lots of interesting facts about how it happened but we must always keep in mind why it happened. On Christmas, wish Jesus a happy birthday but wish it to the King of kings and Lord of lords, not to a baby in a manger. And keep in mind that our sovereign King has always been and will always be, Christmas was only when the Father inserted the Son into the fabric of our history as one of us. A great event but an event that only marked the beginning of something incredible.