But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14-15)
A Christmas to Forget
I’m going to be completely honest. I was not looking forward to Christmas Eve this year. It was bound to be one to forget.
Let me explain. I serve on the worship team at my church, and Christmas Eve services are some of my absolute favorite services at which to play. We pack the house with people, everyone is so excited to be there, and it’s always a memorable celebration of the birth of our Savior.
But I knew this year would be different. We would pack the house… up to 50% capacity. People would probably still be smiling… but we wouldn’t be able to see it behind their masks. We would still celebrate Jesus… but I feared it wouldn’t be quite as joyous.
I’m happy to say I was wrong.
In the Moment
As I stood on the stage with the other musicians, I forgot it all. The congregation singing didn’t sound limited. The mask around my chin while I played didn’t bother me. There was joy, love, and adoration of that baby born in Bethlehem on the first Christmas, just like there always was. The rest was forgotten.
As I anticipated (and dreaded) Christmas this year, I forgot the real reason we celebrate Christmas. Because God remembered us in our sin and weakness, He sent His Son to save us:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever (Isaiah 9:6-7).
When this became the focus of Christmas, when I remembered why and whom we celebrate, I was able to push aside all the awfulness of 2020 and focus on the never-ending blessings of God. When I remembered who God is and what he did for me, I forgot everything else and just worshiped.
God remembered us. He recognized we were lost because of the sin brought into the world in the Garden of Eden. He could have left us to try to achieve perfection on our own, but he knew that was a plan doomed for failure. So he sent Jesus, who took on our sin at the cross, bore our punishment, suffered death, and rose again in victory. God forgets our sin so we can all live together in Heaven and know Him forever:
“No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).
You do not have to be a victim of your circumstances. Instead of getting lost in the world around you, remember who God is and what he’s done for you. You are a saved, forgiven child of God, because of Jesus. So it’s okay to move on. Don’t focus on the past and the negativity of 2020. Move ahead in 2021.
Forget & Move Ahead
In Philippians 3, Paul explains his motivation for moving on with his ministry of sharing the Gospel with the world. He says,
“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14-15).
For Paul, what lies behind him is all the work he used to do to try to earn his way into God’s favor, including persecuting Christians. He encourages his followers in Philippi to forget about putting confidence in their own works and righteousness. Instead, they should remember God’s righteousness and what He’s done for them.
We can move ahead in our lives too, forgetting all that has held us back this year and moving ahead in God’s grace and glory. When you remember Jesus, you can forget everything else.
“The Light Has Come”. Christmas Eve message by Pastor Bill Limmer. 24 December 2020.
“Worship Over Worry”. Message by Pastor Ben Sadler. 3 January 2021.