The Hassle and Hope of Christmas

My friends have often heard me say, “I wish I could just cancel Christmas!” This is said with tongue in cheek, of course. I really don’t want to cancel the church service and the celebration of Jesus’ birth. It is just the hassle of all the rest of the fluff.

The angst all begins while I am enjoying Thanksgiving with my family. A light goes off that Christmas is coming with all of its trappings. My heart beats a little faster, a bit of depression hits due to feeling overwhelmed already. And the rest of the day is dampened. Why?

Here is how it goes: Week one after Thanksgiving – get the outside done first. Put up the lights, nail up the door wreath and fancy up the mailbox. Even if you die, at least the neighbors know you are trying. Week two – bring up from the basement at least 20 boxes of decorations to decorate the house. Now the house is beginning to look good. I wish I could leave it up all throughout the year. I’m beginning to have tiny moments of the “Christ”mas spirit.

Week three – the tree goes up and the decorations go on. As I pull out each ornament I have fond memories of years past. For some reason I have always been drawn to small replicas of real life things such as a tiny angel, a tiny purse, a tiny snowmen etc. My favorite of all the ornaments are the crosses. I began collecting crosses years ago. There are crystal ones, silver ones, metal ones, cloth ones all different sizes and colors. My heart begins to sing a little. My tree says, “Jesus is the reason for this celebration.” Now I am a bit more into the season. But what am I going to buy everyone!!!

Without going into great detail, I spend hours on the internet checking items and prices and e-mailing my daughter-in-law about who wants what etc. Because I am a practical type of person, when I find “the” item I like, I spend more hours price checking to find the lowest price. Then I hope all will arrive in time for wrapping and taking to the people I have shopped for.

Everything arrives in time and I am staring at a corner full of boxes that have to be wrapped. Get out the wrapping paper, the scissors, the tape, the ribbon, the boxes, the note cards. Oh, have I mentioned the special food that has to be prepared! And guess what? Once Christmas day is over, the process of taking everything down begins yet just opposite of how it is put up. According to an old wives’ tale, everything has to be down by January 1 or you will have bad luck. Of course I don’t believe in bad luck, yet my neighbors might. And I don’t want them to think I don’t know the custom. So I came up with a plan. Take everything down outside – the mail box decorations, the wreath on the door and the lights. Now I can take my time with the rest. They will never know all the decorations are still up in the house. They may even stay up for days, maybe even weeks after January 1 before I get around to taking it all down.

You say I could choose not to fall for all our society has waged against us to forget Jesus and celebrate Santa, but I am hooked. My childhood Christmases were magical years and now I have grandchildren ages 3 and 6 and the magic is back. Am I sinning? I know I am not. Paul’s directive to the Corinthians is about choosing to eat meat offered to idols or choosing not to eat meat offered to idols. He states there are neither benefits nor any loss for us as far as God is concerned. 1 Corinthians 8:8 states, “Now food [itself] will not cause our acceptance by God nor commend us to Him. Eating [food offered to idols] gives us no advantage; neither do we come short or become any worse if we do not eat [it].”

Applying this principle to Christmas trees and Santa Clause we are no better off or any worse celebrating the fun of Christmas. We know God is the only God and that Santa is pretend. Our heart is what God considers. Are we connected to Him, living in relationship with Him, open to His guidance in our lives? Is Jesus not only our Savior but our life? Are we exalting and praising God in our hearts as we celebrate His Son’s birth along with the fun of Christmas. If you want more information read 1 Corinthians 8:1-13.

As of today, Wednesday, December 22, all is done. I have until January 1 to enjoy the magic of the season, but better yet to enjoy the mystery of the season; the mystery of a baby being born in a stable who is the King of Kings. Who is this baby? All of the people of the then known world do not know what His birth means. Satan does not even know this baby is “the one”. He has no idea what God’s plan is from ages past. Paul says, “I have become (the church’s) servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:25-27 and Romans 16:25-27). For all these people know He is just another baby being born on a cold winter’s night, no one of any importance. If He were important surely He would not be born in a stable!

The story of Jesus’ birth was actually birthed within the Trinity way before the earth was ever formed. God foreknew the fall of man and set into motion a plan that would culminate “in the fullness of time.” That plan was and still is Jesus. God knew we all needed a savior to save us from His punishment of the coldness of our heart towards Him and our resulting misconduct (sin). We need to also be saved from ourselves. We seem to have a bent to straying. Have you noticed?

This baby grows up and takes all of our sins, past, present and future onto Himself. We cannot just look at Christmas alone and revel in the birth of a child. Everyone who has ever lived was born. That is easy. Every one of us dies. There is nothing special about that. But only Jesus Christ took the payment for our sins, died and then rose from the dead. Christmas and Easter must be in our hearts as we go about this season.

In the song Hark the Herald Angles God declares “peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.” Think about what this is saying. With the birth of Jesus God is prepared to accept those of us who are sinners. And who are these sinners? They are every person on the face of this earth. God accepts all and excludes none. Christianity is not exclusive as many would say. God is inclusive. All are welcomed. God sends no one to hell. We exclude ourselves and send ourselves to hell. Jesus has made the way to God for each and everyone. What do we have to do? Accept our acceptance into the family of God. May the Christ of Christmas and Easter be born in many this season. Amen

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL

P.S. I WILL NOT BE POSTING NEXT WEEK. I WILL SEE YOU IN 2011

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| December 24th, 2010 | Posted in Author's Weekly Blog |

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