I am posting this in the high likelihood that this will be my last blog post in calendar year 2017. With Advent progressing through the 3rd Sunday and with Christmas Day closing in, the schedule picks up considerably. There are appointments, visitations, a few counseling sessions, kids at home and coming in, travels to be made, etc. But it is Christmas, and there is much joy to be distributed, much love to be shared, and the greatest message of all time to be proclaimed: “Christ has come, He is here, and He is coming again!”
Bear with me (if you would) through this blog. There are a few things God has placed on my heart.
Here is a question I feel God puts before us (all of us) during this holy and precious time in the year: “What do you do with Christmas?” Now you can avoid it, discount it, or just put off answering it – but I am sure that at least sometime in this Advent Season – God places it in your heart and in your spirit.
If you have trouble grasping it, let me break it down a bit so it is a little more practical to face:
Is your celebration more sacred or more secular?
How do you treat people who believe ‘Jesus is the reason for the season?’
Since Christmas Eve falls on Sunday, do you purpose to celebrate with a
local church / your local church, or do you think anything goes and you can
just skip it?
How do you blend Jesus, Santa, reindeer, and wisemen all at once?
Do you attend more get-togethers and parties than worship services
and outreach opportunities? How does that work out, if you do?
We all have these things that lay upon our hearts. And at some point, we should do our best to square-up and face truth. I only say this because our great God and Savior deserves it. He is worthy of our very best.
There are at least 4 choices on how we can approach Christmas (maybe there are more, but here are 4). Which one best resembles yours?
- Simply ignore Him. This is where trees, Santa Claus figurines, and stockings are o.k. but no nativity and nothing that shows the Advent of God’s Son. It’s where “The Night Before Christmas” is permissible but “Joy to the World” is banned. Let’s celebrate the festivities…but in secular style bypassing the religious altogether.
- Add a tad of religion and a hint of Christmas spirit. Find ways to be nice to people. Focus on ‘giving’ and not on ‘getting.’ Show up at a service on Christmas Eve, but only after really wondering if you should; and nearly talking yourself out of it 3 or 4 times on the way. Make a donation…give a gift…drop some coin in the Salvation Army kettle at your favorite store, and convince yourself you are a ‘good person.’ But for the most part – remain at arms length with God.
- Keep Jesus in the manger. Only see Jesus in the nativity scene and somehow neglect His life’s true mission and purpose. Attend and get really excited about the kid’s programs that feature the Announcement of the Angel, Mary and Joseph’s entire journey to Bethlehem, and the miracles surrounding the whole event – culminating with the Birth of Jesus on that 1st Christmas morn’. But by all means, just keep Him in the horse trough. That is where He is most comfy-cozy and really doesn’t interrupt life, patterns, and self-will. Save the Cross for the other season of the year, the one that comes in 3-4 months: Easter.
- Embrace Jesus the way He must be embraced, and worship Him. Genuinely celebrate His coming; realize He comes moment by moment in our lives; and know He is coming again in a much different way. He is our “Long Expected Jesus!” – always, and drawing closer to Him is not a choice, it is a deeply convicted desire. Focus on His grace, His hope, His joy, and His amazing love. And as odd as it may sound: Realize Jesus did not come to us, to planet earth, so that we could celebrate a birthday – but rather, grow deeper so that His first coming was to forgive us of our sins. That is the Good News! Jesus Christ is the reason for every season of the year. Period.
It took me years to see this, to better understand this, and to receive it fully. There were many Christmas’ where I had it all backwards and rode the fence in the lower ones. But with God’s help and lead, I now only desire #4 in the list and to remain here with #4 every single day/hour/minute/second/etc.
I will celebrate Jesus’ coming this Christmas! I will also celebrate it in February, in June, and in October. He has come, He is coming, and He will come again on that day. That is what I long for, in great anticipation. Have a very Merry Christmas adoring, celebrating, praising, and worshiping our One True King! He is worthy.