’tis the season for…hustle, bustle, debt, stress, anxiety, and greed. ’tis the season that we celebrate the birth of our God… Mammon. ’tis the season, that the divine nature of our God becomes oh so present… consumerism, materialism, and individualism. Argue with me all you want, minus the one or two days we sprinkle in 8-pound 6-ounce baby Jesus, this is what Christmas has become for the majority in the church…in fact, for many of us, outside of what we may verbally declare, our actions show that we have become functional atheists during the holidays. Our actions show, that we believe God to actually care that you get that set of golf clubs you’ve always wanted but couldn’t afford, or that you get that Coach purse you ‘need’, or that mine and your little brat gets those toys they ‘deserve.’ This year we will spend about 450 billion dollars, just in our country alone, on junk that we will be ready to replace in a few more years, and we think congress has a spending issue. Doesn’t it seem ironic that we are the very ones who fight, who get indignant, who lose our witness over the idea of taking “Christ” out of Christmas… we get angry that the secularists don’t want to use Christ to represent everything during the season I just described. Are they not simply making official what we have already put into practice? I have to say, when I look at it that way, I have to agree with them, in fact, it may be the most polite thing we do for Jesus this season, and that is completely disassociate Christ with our greed OR relearn how to celebrate Christmas in such a way, that his life is obvious to those around us.
I’m not trying to be a scrooge at all, in fact this is my favorite time of the year – hands down. I will, like many of you, sit around a tree with my family and open gifts. I will, like many of you, over eat in the name of holiday festivity. I will, like many of you, enjoy family in a way that seems foreign to the rest of year (which it shouldn’t). That said, about three years ago my wife and I, for the first time ended the Christmas season with disgust – we HATED it! One night as we were attempting to sort out our feelings about things like holidays, traditions and the like, we realized that the real reason we hated the Christmas season is that we weren’t actually celebrating Christmas, we were celebrating that holiday I described above, in fact, it sparked an amazing conversation in us that resulted in a blog about traditions (click HERE), and several changes in our practices. Maybe that is you or your family. Maybe you celebrate the birth of Mammon, rather than the birth of the Christ. Maybe you have lost the true meaning of the coming of Jesus into this world, and thus exchanged it with the coming of a new credit card bill in January. Maybe you are ready to reclaim Christmas for you and your family. Here are some ideas on how to do that:
- Create new traditions, here’s a blog that talks a little bit about that – For Tradition Sake
- Give outside of your family – commit to giving one gift per-family member to someone (or an entire family) who may not get to enjoy this season the same way your family does (if you don’t know where to begin, here are some RESTORE Christmas initiatives you can give to, click HERE).
- Center the whole season around the coming of the Christ, not just a church service. Below are some great resources to help you do that:
- Black Friday: Just DON’T DO IT!!! Stay home and play with your family!
- Slow down: Live life light through the holidays, make living incarnational your goal, be very present with those you love and those who have no one to love them
- Prepare for Next Year: I find that if we can be intentional about approaching times, we have a better chance of not letting the time control us. We all know, unless we die this holiday season (grant it, not a great thought), that the new year is coming for all of us, so use this down time during the Holiday season to plan to be others and Christ centric through 2012, here are a few good resources.
- Operation World – maybe you recognize you don’t have or you would like to have more of God’s heart for the Nations. Maybe you feel called to international adoption, but you don’t know from where. Maybe God is moving on your heart to move out into the international mission field, but you are not sure where. This is a great resource to use to not only pray for the nations but open the eyes of your family to the needs in each nation.
- The Circle of Seasons – this is a great resource to connect the historical church rhythm with your year, connecting the past to the present
- Live Outside Yourself – plan, plan now, to give more of yourself through all of 2012 – maybe you become a foster parent; maybe you plan a pilgrimage or mission trip to another country; maybe you start the adoption journey; maybe you begin to sponsor children in other countries; maybe you and your family commit to build a home in Haiti; maybe you decide to uproot from your nice little suburban haven and move to a place that is in need of an incarnational people among them…dream it, pray about it, do it and if you have any questions about how to do any of these, email me.
Do it! Be intentional, put Christ back in “Christmas” not by arguing with the media or getting angry at a secular perspective, but by actually living the Christ life in the Christmas season!
Until next year, have a great holiday season!