The spirit of Christmas captures folks. Not sure what it is, but one reading of the Christmas story in Luke tells me that the spirit on that first Christmas was the Holy Spirit.


The announcement came to Zechariah during his course of duty: “Your wife Elizabeth will bear a son…and many will rejoice at his birth…He will be great…and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:13-15).

God had his eye on John before John had his eye on God. What would make this child great? His diet? Abstinence? Demeanor? No, his filling! It is the Spirit that makes people good—and great!

He would “turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord” (16). How? Persuasive preaching? No. “He will go before him [Messiah] in the spirit and power of Elijah” (17). The same Spirit empowers you and me. Incredible!


Mary received the shocking news that she would have a baby. When she asked about it, the angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…For nothing will be impossible with God” (35,37). Matthew wrote that “she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit” (1:18).

It didn’t look that way. What appeared as an unholy moment of passion proved the quiet work of the Spirit. People looked at her getting bigger and wondered, while she looked at God, who grew bigger in her eyes. When Mary asked, “How?” the angel said, “The Holy Spirit,” the answer to every human impossibility, including yours.


Mary’s visit with an angel was followed by a visit to her relative. When Elizabeth heard her greeting, the Spirit moved upon her, the same Spirit that moved on John, still in her womb. He responded to the presence of Jesus, less than a month along. Elizabeth burst into prophecy. It was likely her first time ever. Nothing strange about a kick in the womb, but it was this time, because it was the Spirit moving, not just John. The Spirit does the same for us, turning a conversation into an encounter.

Meanwhile, Zechariah had a nine-month time-out. But when he opened his mouth after the naming of John, resisting tradition, he “was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied” (Lk. 1:64,67). Before he had doubted; now he spoke powerfully and prophetically. The Spirit that shut him up now welled up—in his body. Trust the Spirit to do the same in you.


Simeon’s timing was right on. He came to the temple “moved by the Spirit” (Luke 2:27). How did that happen? ”The Holy Spirit was upon him” and it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (26).

Were these people superstars? No, just common folks who yielded to the divine Spirit. Do you need the Lord’s leading—toward the right job, the right mate, the right decision. Paul says we prove we’re in the family by the way the Spirit leads us (Rom. 8:14).

The spirit of Christmas is more than a party with good friends. It is the Holy Spirit, filling us to cooperate with God’s redemptive purpose, to speak His truth and recognize His Son! Have a Spirit-filled Christmas!


I jumped in with both feet to the Christmas season. I got my lights up this year BEFORE Thanksgiving. Don’t stone me. We had a great Thanksgiving, perhaps the best ever, all 30 plus of us. My kids agree. The lights weren’t a distraction. They simply added to the mood and announced, “Let’s celebrate and be thankful.” We can use two major holidays (literally “holy days”) to our advantage.

I’m doing something new this year; I am keeping the lights on all night. Hey, someone is going to drive by at 3 AM and say, “Look at those beautiful lights.” I just helped with a boring commute to work.

Mary and Joseph announce our Christmas every year by gazing into the feeding trough on the front lawn. (Okay, it’s really a short stool). Their devotion calls me to do the same. I want to meditate again on the Scriptures that might otherwise breed boredom for their familiarity. They are announcing the incredible descent from glory to shame, from the highest place to the lowest, from the throne to the barn out back. Wait a minute. Is that the way it was supposed to be? Couldn’t God have done better with His Firstborn? Yes, but He chose to make a point–He is for the outcast and the downcast.

More lights than ever this time around–inside and out. Light’s a good thing. God said, “Let there be light,” so I follow Him. Light always wins over the darkness. It is a law of physics. Go ahead. Open the closet door. Does darkness invade the bedroom, or does light penetrate the dark closet? I want to be a champion of the light, in my heart, in my home, in my relationships–okay, in my Christmas decorations.

We are playing the Christmas CDs daily. We do not tire of wonderful Christmas hymns that are not sung the rest of the year, tunes with great theology, like “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” We also enjoy the lighthearted melodies that help to put us in a merry spirit. What a gift music is to elevate the spirit and draw us into the powerful message of the Creator coming into His creation.

We launched this year’s Christmas celebration on the first Sunday of Advent by attending the Christmas concert at Northcentral University. Good decision. Wonderful and edifying music. You have permission to enjoy this beautiful season to the utmost!

Nate Johnstone’s message Sunday on the incarnation kicked things off for Lydia House in a profound way. The mystery of this truth cannot be overestimated. That “the word became flesh” goes past what the mind can grasp. The heart must receive it first–and marvel. Let’s do it!

How about lighting Advent candles? We do. Just as a season in Lent prepares of for the smashing glory of Easter, so four weeks of Advent get us ready for the powerful day of Christmas. The resurrection story does not grip as much when we haven’t thought about Calvary, about denying ourselves and taking up the cross. Good Friday anticipates brilliant Sunday. And so Advent announces that “the King is coming.” Prepare to meet Him, whether He comes by way of the barn out back or on a horse with fire in His eyes! Come, Lord Jesus!