Actually that’s not entirely true. There are actually two things happening this time of year that are both labeled as Christmas. One is a celebration of the coming of our Savior to begin his work of redemption; and that is meaningful to me. The other is an excuse to give a shot in the arm to the local economy as well as go further into debt; and I’m not overly fond of that ‘Christmas’.
It is way too easy to allow the first to be lost in the hustle and bustle of the second. I’m pretty sure there is no way to change the culture around me to give up on the secularized orgy of buying and selling at this time of year since it seems to be pretty deeply ingrained. I mean, after all, we really do deserve to get a new car, be surrounded by diamonds and have unlimited data plans for our phones; don’t we?
But just because the world around me is going crazy decorating, buying, wrapping, cooking, etc., does not mean that I have to get sucked into it as well. Yes, I have put up a string of lights around the house, and will eventually put up a tree and wrap a few gifts. But I want to try harder than ever this year to keep Christ in Christmas.
And for those of you who are offended when others won’t say Merry Christmas and accuse them of taking Christ out of Christmas, may I encourage you to keep Christ in Christmas yourself. Not just by saying that word, but by honoring him in the things you do this Christmas. There are many ways to do this but I offer up a few thoughts here.
What is the highlight of your Christmas day? Is it centered around a mountain of packages under a tree? If so, I would encourage you to shift some of that focus to a baby born in Bethlehem some 2015 years ago. And remember him, not just a newborn baby with shepherds, angels and wise men. But remember him as God, come in the flesh, to live among us and to give his life for us.
Do you have a hard time knowing what to get for someone on your gift list? If so, it may be that they really don’t need anything and your money might be better spent providing food and shelter for the homeless, gifts for a poor family in your neighborhood, or goats for a family in Africa. There are so many opportunities to give to those in need this time of year. And you can usually do it in someone else’s name, giving donation certificates to the folks on your shopping list rather than a gift that they may well not have any use for.
You might even take the time to get involved in a shelter or kitchen this year yourself, giving, not only of your money, but also of your time. How better to honor the one who gave himself for us than to imitate him in giving ourselves to those who cannot repay us.
And spend time with your family. Spend a little less time in the kitchen or watching football and spend some time with your husband, wife, children and others who are a special part of your life. Go look at Christmas lights, attend Advent and candle light services, play games, or just sit and talk. The memories of time spent together will last longer than the fudge, the game highlights or the unneeded gifts.
And remember what Christmas is all about. And as for that other thing going on now: bah humbug!