Tonight was once of the most fun nights I have had in a very long time. Tonight I got to spend the evening with a group of friends from church. These people are more than my friends though. They are my family.
During this festive time of year we are drowning in must-do holiday activities. There are company Christmas parties, Christmas programs at our children’s schools, caroling, decorating, gift shopping and wrapping, holiday dinner cooking, cards to be written and mailed. With all the things that we feel we HAVE to do it is easy to lose sight of why we are doing it.
Christmas is not about gifts or pretty wrapping paper. Christmas is not about the dinner your boss buys for the company once a year as he gives the obligatory you-guys-did-great-this-year-and-i’m-lucky-to-have-such-a-great-team-and-i’m-looking-forward-to-another-great-year-next-year speech. Christmas is not about how juicy your ham or turkey is. Christmas isn’t about how twinkly your tree is, or that awful elf on the shelf. Christmas isn’t even about all of the cards that work their way through the mail this time each year. If every single thing disappeared right now that we feel makes this time of year Christmasy then guess what . . . December 25th would still be Christmas.
Don’t believe me? Go watch “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” and then we’ll talk.
The residents of Whoville . . . Or more appropriately, Dr. Seuss . . . was trying to remind us with that story that Christmas is not about all of the outward things we do. Christmas will show up no matter how many lights are on your house. Christmas will show up whether or not you go caroling, or prepare the prettiest and best-tasting roast beast.
Too many people have it stuck in their head that they can only sing Christmas carols in December. If singing “let it snow” in the middle of an august heat wave makes a person happy then what’s to steop them? Why can’t Christmas lights be strung in trees year-round? The world could certainly use the extra color and twinkle. Why do we spend hours and hours preparing a meal once a year and the other 364 days do good to boil water for Ramen noodles? Why do we fight crowds of people in stores to buy gifts in only in December? If Christmas were moved to July would that make it less merry and festive?
No, I am not knocking Christmas. I love Christmas. I love twinkly lights, Christmas carols, and seeing the look on my sons face when he opens his gifts. But . . .
If I had my way I’d leave my lights up all the time, all year. I sing Christmas carols all year long. I surprise my family and friends with gifts whenever I see something that they’d like. I’ve even been known to cook that entire holiday meal, including the roast beast, in the middle of summer.
Christmas is not one day of the year. Christmas is a state-of-mind. December 25th is the day we set aside to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is supposed to be the day we rejoice Him, praise Him, lift His name up. It is His birthday. The day is supposed to be about Him.
When your birthday rolls around each year don’t you want the focus of the day to be on you? So when Christ’s birthday comes each December 25th shouldn’t the focus be on Him? Instead we focus on whether or not the turkey is too dry and if you really should have gotten your aunt that calligraphy kit instead of the oh-so-cute kitten sweater.
Christ is love. God loves us so much that he gave us His son through Mary. Jesus was God’s Christmas gift to us. Christmas is about love . . . sharing our love of our friends and family with them as God showed it to us through the birth of Christ. Shouldn’t that love be shared every day of the year and not just on one day in December? Shouldn’t that love be shown through small acts when they are least expected rather than through a haze of torn wrapping paper and lumpy gravy one day a year?
December 25th is a day for Jesus, but too many people forget it’s meaning in the commercialized push for year-end sales.
Tonight I got to spend the evening with my Lifegroup. Lifegroups at my church are small groups that meet once a week to grow in our relationships with Christ and each other. We share a meal. We fellowship. We get to know each other. We study God’s word. We are friends, and we are family. Tonight my Lifegroup got together to celebrate Christ and the relationships that he had formed within our church and in our group. We shared a potluck meal of everybody’s favorite-to-make-at-home dishes. We laughed. We talked. We played games. We enjoyed each others company. It was the best Christmas memory I’ve made in a very long time. Tonights memory would have been no less meaningful had it occurred in March, July, or October because tonight wasn’t about gifts or any of the other commercial trapping associated with this time of year. Tonight is was about my church family spending time together the way Jesus intended his people to do . . . in praise of His name and thankful for all the blessing in our lives. The relationships we have in my Lifegroup are one of the biggest blessings in my life.
Most of us had never met before walking into that church. A year ago I didn’t know a single one of them. But tonight I can sit here and say that if I were to need anything I could call anyone of those people and they would be there for me without hesitation. That is the meaning of Christmas . . . showing the love of Christ not just in December, but every single day.
So why do we stress over one day of the year when the Lord wants us to celebrate Him each day?
This December 25th as you are carving the ham and making sure you have enough eggnog make sure you take a moment to remember why you are celebrating. Take a moment to wish a happy birthday to Christ, especially after all that He ultimately gave for you.
Merry Christmas from my family to yours.
Until next time . . .