Friday, 19 September 2014
Not Keeping, But Finding Christ in Christmas
I was up too early this morning–again–my mind peppered with unfinished Christmas tasks.
Checked email first. Bad idea. “Doorbusters!! Last chance to save big!!” “Top Ten Toys This Holiday Season!!” “Hurry! Final Hours for 20% off!!”
Delete. Delete. Delete. I already know I’m behind. The hype is not helpful. Then I saw the blog post: Keep Christ in Christmas.
I understand the sentiment, but frankly at this point it felt like the straw–one “to do” too many. Like I’m holding an armful of packages and someone hands me a fragile nativity scene. What happens if I drop it and it shatters?
We Can’t Keep Him Out
It can feel like keeping Christ in Christmas is all on us, against formidable adversaries. It’s not just that materialism and busyness crowd him out, but these days legal action is being taken to keep him out. A few years ago a town in Alabama was ordered by the city attorney to keep Christ out of their Christmas parade. Their response was both creative and effective.
But is it all up to us? The truth is I can’t keep Christ out of Christmas. The Son of God was born that night in Bethlehem. It’s a fact of history. So is the life that followed his birth, the death that was recorded in Roman as well as Christian history, and the resurrection that was seen by hundreds of eye-witnesses.
He’s there. We can’t keep him out. We don’t need to keep him in.
Not Keeping, But Finding
I’m as guilty as the next media-saturated-pinterest-following person of trying to plan and execute the perfect Christmas. It’s a lot of work, and each year it gets a little harder. Traditions multiply while my energy to implement them diminishes. And then things start to go wrong.
There was the year my husband lit fires in both fireplaces, turned on the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas album, and started the video camera rolling. But instead of recording our frolicking children opening stockings with wide-eyed joy, it showed us shouting and running around opening windows. The two fires created a perfect vacuum, filling the house with smoke.
Another year our dinner guests arrived two hours early. “It’s people,” our son remarked as he stood in his pajamas before the open door. I greeted them in my fuzzy pink robe and hospitably asked them to get lost for two hours.
Trying to be helpful one year, my dear husband started refinishing the kitchen floor while I was trying to baste the turkey. After I yelled at him, he wandered off to de-fragment the computer.
All these moments. Silly. Sad. Sinful. Messy. When things go wrong and I make them worse. These are the very times when Jesus pops up. He doesn’t politely avoid our Christmas disasters. He came—and we celebrate Christmas—because of all the disasters of our lives. Both the sin-caused ones and the ones that bring out the worst in us. Holiday parties included.
Find Christ, Find Joy
The gospel is good news and never more so than at Christmas. In the midst of the calls to do—Buy! Save! Hurry! Keep Christ!—comes the announcement of what has just been done.
for behold I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.
For unto you
is born this day in the city of David,
who is Christ the Lord.”
The only command given is the one we most need to hear: “Fear not!” The rest of the announcement is simply the greatest news we could ever hear.
- Great joy. Isn’t that what we all really want?
- For all the people. For those who want to keep Christ in Christmas and for those who want to keep him out.
- For you. For me? Really? The biggest package under the tree is for me?
- A Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Only the Lord himself could pull off such a Christmas.
So stand down, dear sisters. The race for the perfect Christmas is off. The sorrows of a broken Christmas are comforted.
A Savior is born to you.
Find him when you fail, and when you succeed. Find him when things go wrong and when they go right. Find him when you solve the problems and when you cause them.
“There he is!” will be your shout of joy…and that will help others find him, too.