I love Christmas.

But it hasn’t always been that way. For a couple years, my wife and I were hostile to Christmas. It was a time in our lives when we lived in extreme austerity. We lived a spartan life, “first in a teepee and then in a very small shack—what we affectionately called a “goat barn.”

Why? It’s a long story, but the bottom line is that we were self-righteous, curmudgeonly prigs. We looked down on everyone who enjoyed the amenities of modern life. We called them worldly, superficial sell-outs to the cult of Mammon.

We were especially harsh toward our brothers and sisters in Christ. How could they glibly ride the bus of materialism as it drove off the cliff of certain destruction? We were better than that. Smarter than that. Holier than that. We had jumped off the bus, and we despised everyone who didn’t join us.

So, no electricity. No running water. No refrigeration. And no joy.

What does that have to do with Christmas? Well, as you can imagine, we came to see Christmas as nothing more than a worldly, materialistic, godless invention of marketers. Christmas was all about Stuff. And Stuff was Bad.

I remember going home to my parents’ house with our children one Christmas. It should have been a glad time. A joyful time. But I made it miserable.

There we sat, presents under the tree, the smell of turkey in the oven, lights, decorations, kids eager to see what was hiding in the packages. But right before opening presents in my father’s house that Christmas morning, I insisted on reading a diatribe against … presents.

I was Scrooge. Or maybe the Grinch. I can’t decide which is worse.

Of course, I did it all for the sake of preserving God’s honor in a godless age. But, as it turns out, I was the godless one. I had forgotten God and the Gospel, and I had done it all in God’s name.

You see, the Gospel is all about extravagance. It’s all about gifts and feasting. #e goal of the Gospel is to save Jesus’ Bride and get her ready for her wedding feast.

So we shouldn’t be surprised that Jesus performed His “first miracle at a wedding feast, and that the miracle made it a better, more extravagant party. In His largesse, our Lord provided one hundred and “fifty gallons of wine. And in so doing, He “manifested His glory” (John 2:1–11).

In the Old Testament, God commanded regular feasting. And He designed this feasting to remind His people of that Great Feast to Come:

The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain;
A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow,
And refined, aged wine.
And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples,
Even the veil which is stretched over all nations.
He will swallow up death for all time,
And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces,
And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth;
For the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 25:6–8)

Our response to that promise should be to celebrate, and you can’t celebrate spiritually without Stuff. In Nehemiah when the people of God had humbled themselves before Him, this was the command: “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

In our low-fat, saccharine-filled, vegetarian rebellion, we are in danger of missing the joy and strength of the Lord. Indeed, we’re in danger of missing the point. How can we prepare for the wedding feast of the Lamb if we think feasting and celebration are bad things? If we think Stuff (or stuffing) is Bad?

As I recently heard writer Nate Wilson put it, Christmas reminds us that Jesus was born in a barn and laid in a food bowl. He came so we could feast.

Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us. He took on a body and came into a world of sweaters and necklaces and dolls and Tonka trucks. And when He did that, He sanctified Stuff. And now, our Father is the One “who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). We are not godly when we refuse to enjoy His gifts. And that’s why we delight to give and receive presents at Christmas. Big and expensive and extravagant presents. Because in giving good gifts, we imitate our Father “as beloved children.

So, my wife and I are no longer Christmas curmudgeons. God had mercy on us and put to death our inner Ebenezers with a healthy dose of Christmas cheer. As Christians—thankful for our flesh-born Savior, knowing the extravagance of the Father, with bellies full of grace—we are happy to sing without a shred of irony or guilt,

Now bring us some figgy pudding,
Now bring us some figgy pudding,
Now bring us some figgy pudding,
And a cup of good cheer!

We won’t go until we get some,
We won’t go until we get some,
We won’t go until we get some,
So bring it right here!

Merry Christmas.

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