Rediscovering Christmas

It's only a few days away from Christmas, and I desperately need Jesus.

Being out there in the great hustle bustle of shopping madness and hurry scurry of busyness has made me a bit melancholy -- because the prevailing sentiment I sense from those around me is one of lackluster fatigue and a "let's just hurry up and get this over with" mentality.

People are rushing around with lists and check marks, with payday loans and credit card transactions, with gritted teeth and a grin and bear it frame of mind.

A Christian friend of mine recently admitted to "hating Christmas." Taken aback, I asked her what she meant by that. She explained how this is her least favorite holiday of the year because of all the trappings and pressure to buy, do, and be. 

I understood....but my heart was heavy.

I understand how those without Christ can go crazy into materialism and the glitz of "the holiday." I can even overlook and forgive the sanitizing of Christmas into "the season," "winter break," etc. Because, really, should we expect them to know any different -- to reverence and hold dear an event which they do not fully comprehend or adhere to?

What is harder to comprehend for me is how it has come to this -- that CHRIST-ians would actually grow weary of CHRIST-mas? To me, that's as foreign of a concept as a child hating his or her own birthday? 

It's Christmas -- or "Christ" - "mass" ("mass" which means celebration).

How is it possible that we could come to despise the epitome of all Christian celebrations -- the miracle of a God who would allow Himself to be contracted through the detritus and offal of human childbirth only to arrive into a barnyard -- all to save us from the bondage of our sin?

So why all the sadness, frustration and general disillusionment with Christmas?

Because we have forgotten who we are.

We are refugees of Earth -- resettled and appointed to live out our days here until our mortal body should fail, or Jesus should come back and take us away. And, while we need to carve out a life here for ourselves and our family, this is not our homeland. 

We live for a greater purpose. We toil and endure for a greater future and eternity. We are not bound by the values and customs of those who are without Christ.

Yet, we have forgotten the very reason Christ came -- to give us freedom -- freedom from sin; freedom from death and freedom from bondage?

Freedom from "the holidays."

That freedom allows us to throw off the commercialism, the syrupy over-indulgence of materialism, the phoniness of the "holiday warm fuzzies"...all of  it can be unwrapped from our hearts, just as we unwrap gifts on Christmas day.

If you are struggling with your attitude about Christmas this year, may I offer the reminder (and the hope) that there is no "Christmas Rule Book." There is no "have to do this" or you "shouldn't do that." 

Christmas can be celebrated however you would like.... just need to know what it is you want...or maybe what you don't want...and start from there.

As with most areas where we've lost focus or the original intent of something important, I think we need to strip away all the tinsle and trappings and go back to the basics -- to think outside of the Christmas box and see this "season,"  for what it is...a grand party that we're invited to partake in every year on December 25th.

Garland, holly, wreaths and a bevy of decor inside and outside of your home is not required.

Not having a Christmas tree is not a disqualifier.

Running yourself ragged attending and hosting "holiday events" is not mandatory.

Purchasing a pile of toys made in China that won't be played with a month later is not necessary.

In fact, as the penned lines of the Christmas hymn of O Little Town of Bethlehem beautifully express, there is nothing required save a meek soul that "will receive Him still,"  and when we do, "the dear Christ enters in." 

Christmas is a celebration of our ability to ask Him for that opportunity. To think that we could ask the Creator of the Universe to "come to us, abide with us...our Lord, Emmanuel" holds my mind and heart captive.

I don't know about you, but I dearly need Christ to enter into the crazy of my life, and especially during Christmas. And yet, so often, we cannot wait to get Christmas over and done with and move on to a new year.

So, I'm throwing down a challenge this Christmas season: Figure out what Christmas really means to you and your family...and act accordingly:

You may delve into the mystery and wonder how a baby's birth over 2000 years ago could change the course of a life, a family, a world by following Advent or a Jesse Tree to recount the lineage and ancestry of Christ.

You may choose to downscale your gift giving, or instead, make some gifts made by hand

You might even decide to forgo gifts completely in favor of volunteering as a family, or giving a gift to others in need.

The point is that there are no rules to celebrating Christmas. You are not bound by the expectations of those around you, and yes, even by the ones you place on yourself.

Be free.

Unwrap that gift of freedom that Christ came to give all those years ago.

Push away apathy and lethargy. Put on grace and gratitude.

Let the gratefulness and joy you feel spill out of your mouth and your very eyes! Greet fellow believers with a hearty, "Merry CHRIST-mas!" as a reminder that this season of celebration is ALL about Him.

Indulge in writing "Merry Xmas," because contrary to what you've heard, the "X" is not taking the "Christ out of Christmas." It's actually keeping Him right there. The "X" comes from the Greek letter "Chi," which is the first letter of the Greek word, "Χριστός," translated as Christ.

But most of all, take the simple truth and beauty of Christmas and hold it up to the Light of Christ and then bury it deep into your heart, where no holiday sale, crowded parking lot, or those poor of spirit can touch or tarnish it.

Keep sacred that which is sacred.

The rest is just ornamental.

It's only a few days away from Christmas, and I desperately need.....only Jesus.

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