Decisions at Christmas - A lesson from Texas History
On Christmas Eve in 1901, something shocking happened in the little town of Alpine, Texas. The First Baptist church was just concluding revival services, when a young man came forward to become a member. He was gladly received, and was immediately baptized. He boldly stated that he would enroll at Baylor University, and become a Baptist minister. But, why was this decision newsworthy?
Alpine is located in far West Texas, and is the County Seat of Brewster County. Surrounded by the cool scent of sagebrush in the Chihuahuan Desert, Alpine is just north of Big Bend National Park. In 1901, Alpine had a population of less than 400 sturdy souls, so everybody knew everybody. And everybody knew T. E. McKenzie. Less than three months earlier, McKenzie had assumed the pastorate of the historic First Methodist church.
So, what was the shocker? It was T. E. McKenzie, pastor of the Methodist church, that suddenly converted to the Baptist church and was baptized on Christmas Eve! The local newspaper, The Alpine Avalanche reported, “Whatever may be thought of his judgment, Rev. McKenzie is honest and has the courage of his convictions.”
While this one hundred and sixteen-year old story is humorous, it highlights the fact that people often make big decisions at Christmas. Some decisions are not always easy. Certainly, Rev. McKenzie had to ponder the complications he would face regarding this conclusion.
What about you? What decisions do you face at Christmas? Men often let their wives do the shopping. But at Christmas, he has to decide on what to give his wife. And then there are the family decisions like where will we spend Christmas Eve? What will we eat for Christmas dinner? Who should we invite to our Christmas party?
But there are even weightier decisions that surface during Christmastime. Should we have a Christmas tree, and tell our children about Santa Claus? How should we interact with our friends who celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa? Should we celebrate Christmas at all?
The birth of Jesus has forced people to make tough decisions for over 2000 years. Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds had to decide to believe the Angels message (Matthew 1, Luke 1). The Wise Men had to decide if the star was really a sign from God. Any decision was going to require change, action, and a major lifestyle changes. Christmastime is decision time.
For some, the birth of Jesus brings out their worst behavior. Every year, we read news articles about someone stealing the Baby Jesus from a Nativity creche display. Others destroy neighborhood Christmas decorations with the vengeance of the Grinch or Ebenezer Scrooge. King Herod was so upset about the birth of Jesus, that he ordered all baby boys under the age of two to be put to death. (Matthew 2:16) This was a terrible decision.
Your biggest decision this Christmas, is to determine your relationship with Jesus. If He is the only Son of God, and was born to save mankind, are you ready to accept Him as your personal Savior? As the Scripture says regarding Jesus in Acts 4:12 ESV, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Hymn-writer Albert B. Simpson (1891) wrote, “What will you do with Jesus? Neutral you cannot be; Someday your heart will be asking, ‘What will He do with me?’” No one is neutral at Christmas. What is your decision?