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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas in Heaven

Well, Christmas Day 2015 is now behind us, but I was thinking the other day about my dad. He passed away a year and a half ago. I suppose it's pretty common to think about people you've lost at Christmastime, which since Christmas is a joyful, celebratory time, seems a bit paradoxical. But, it happens, and it was happening to me. I was wondering something that I'll bet a lot of people missing their loved ones at Christmas wonder: I wondered if they celebrate Christmas in Heaven?

I mean, obviously Jesus is as central a figure to people in Heaven as He is to us still on Earth. Maybe even more so in significant ways, since He is bodily present in Heaven! So, wouldn't they want to celebrate His incarnation as the Savior who got them to Heaven in the first place?

But to most accounts, time is not the same kind of thing there that it is here. I don't know if, to an occupant of Heaven, it even makes any difference at all whether or not it is December 25th on Earth. Certainly God created the cycle of seasons that make up the year, but Heaven isn't on Earth anyway. There are no seasons there, and certainly no specific dates. There's not even a nighttime! What use is a calendar when there are no day/night cycles, no seasons, and nobody even gets old anyway?

Then I thought about what constitutes "celebrating Christmas" - stripping away things like shopping (but keeping a giving heart in the mix), traditional Christmas stories like Rudolph and Frosty (but of course retaining the one with the manger and the baby), putting up decorations and lights. If you remove the cultural trappings, Christmas means celebrating the amazing miracle of the incarnation of Christ Jesus, and that brings with it the impulse to celebrate! To sing, to give, to love. To appreciate and enjoy those around you. To me, those are the things that really make up Christmas. If I miss seeing a Rankin-Bass special one year, Christmas does not truly lose anything - but if I miss the chance to love others by giving, I miss out on something important.

If those things are the central point of Christmas, then I would say in Heaven, they do celebrate Christmas. They celebrate it every single day! Every day, the risen Christ is a physical reminder to them that He came to Earth to save every human being He could. How joyful of a celebration is that?

And that's why I'm still blogging about Christmas this year, the week after December 25th. Because just because we're not in Heaven yet doesn't mean we can't celebrate Jesus' coming to save us any time we want! I know "Christmas all through the year" has become a bit of a cliché, but for Christians, it is absolutely true. We can celebrate the freedom brought to Earth by Jesus every single day. It's what makes us look to the world like something is different about us! Something is different. Jesus paid us a visit, and we can never be the same after that.

So take a moment today to celebrate Christmas with my dad. With your departed loved ones, too. And with me, and with everyone else that Jesus' coming to Earth has changed forever! Let today be Christmas to you, because Jesus has arrived in your heart!

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