I absolutely love this time of year. I love everything about it. I love that we have an entire season devoted in our culture for one day which celebrates the birth of Christ. Even those who don't worship Jesus as their Savior and Lord still embrace Christmas with all its festivities. There is even a negative moniker reserved for those who refuse to have holiday cheer: A Scrooge.
I love that there is special music, movies, food and decorations. I love the sights and smells. I love that almost all society celebrates together, unlike family birthdays which are personal to each family. Stores close, people get the day off of work (hopefully) and families gather to exchange gifts, eat rich foods, and sing Christmas carols.
It can be so difficult not to get caught up in the commercialism. However, I actually like some of the commercialism, even some of the Santa Claus movies leave me with a warm feeling. I like the bustle of the busy stores. I think I enjoy it because it does give a sense of unity; that we are all celebrating together, strangers united in our efforts to find the perfect gift, to create the perfect holiday atmosphere, delighting in the happiness of our loved ones. We may be in our separate homes, with our distinctly different traditions, but we all have a common purpose: celebration.
I think what bothers Christians the most is that so many who are not Christians still celebrate Christmas, leaving Christ out of it, embracing the "happy holidays" movement instead of "Merry Christmas". Or, there are those who only attend church on this one day of the year, paying their "tithe of 1/365th of their year, as if that was enough. No, God doesn't want our duty, He wants our hearts and on this most special of days, the birth of His son sent to die for us, He should have it. Christmas is not about good cheer and community service, nice as all that is. It is about Christ, the One who was born to die. My favorite line from a Christmas song is "God predestined that His son would die, yet he still created man. Oh what love is that his death was in His plan." THAT blows me away. It blows me away that God knew His son would have to die for us, for our sin, yet He still created us. What amazing love!
Yes, Christmas is about the birth of a baby into the most humble of circumstances. But is about the birth of our King, our Savior, who would ultimately be led like a lamb to the slaughter for our sins, to pay the price we should have paid. Are we teaching our children that this Christmas? Cameron and I want our children to love Christmas as much as we do, but we also do not want them to get caught up in materialism and the temporary excitement that is gone as quick as the wrapping paper is discarded, leaving one feeling empty on December 26th. We want to fill our children's appetites with Christ, leaving them not empty, but full and hungering for more of Him. I have to admit, it IS hard to compete with toys, cookies and the excitement that accompanies the anticipation of waiting for Christmas morning. However, we cannot expect our children to be excited about Jesus on Christmas morning if we are neglecting Him the rest of the year, or if we are not preparing their hearts LONG before the big day. A heart focused on Christ takes work, especially on the part of the parents. We cannot expect our children to naturally have a desire for Christ when their senses are filled with the world. We have much to compete with and we have to be proactive and vigilant in our assertion that Christmas is about CHRIST. We need to start right after Thanksgiving, reading the Christmas story daily, praying for each of our hearts to remain steadfast in the midst of the busyness, and creating a home atmosphere that points to Him. It IS a big deal. Christmas is something our children look forward to all year. They start talking about it months ahead of time! They sense the specialness of the season, but do they know WHY?
Let us embrace the holiday traditions, enjoy the festivities, but point our children to Christ, not as a small piece of Christmas, in their young minds, even though we may have a grasp on the significance. No, let us show our children how all traditions, festivities, and fanfare point to Him!
Ultimately, He is more than the "reason for the season"; He is the reason we LIVE and He is our very great reward. May Christmas just be an extension of the worship of Christ that is already present in our daily lives. If it isn't, don't you think you should make that your #1 priority this Christmas?
To God be the glory!
In Christ, Laura