I was well on my way to a “Bah! Humbug!” Christmas season. It started in July. For some reason, July marks the beginning of my thoughts of Christmas for I know that soon Christmas will begin showing up in department stores long before the last rose of summer has faded. July is also the tipping point towards the end of another year. The negative feelings within me continued to escalate; and when the Christmas ads began in earnest on TV in November, I was completely disheartened by all the secularism and merchants pushing to make their annual sales quotas. This year the total lack of any reference to “the reason for the season” was pervasive and I was very disheartened. As far as I was concerned, Christmas with all the hype could be cancelled and I would not miss it at all!
In my humanity, I thought if I were God, how would I want my son’s birthday commemorated? Certainly the birth of Him Who is my Savior is worthy of celebration but what is a fitting commemoration? I am not sure I have a clear answer to that question even yet.
It seems to me that so many of the traditions of Christmas that were well-intentioned initially have now become distractions. Take the giving of gifts for instance. Because the wise men brought gifts to Jesus, we now give gifts to one another. Many a sermon has been preached on the significance of the gold, frankincense and myrrh. These were wonderful gifts to a babe born into difficult circumstances. At the time of his birth, he had no home, no clothes – nothing but a manger bed. Today we are cursed with abundance and that makes gift giving difficult. The time we spend at shopping malls or on the internet searching for that perfect gift draws our hearts away from our Christ who was (is) the perfect gift.
Things began to turn in my heart when I attended my church’s annual Christmas concert, an event geared to the community. This year the program was very simple but powerful in its message to me. The beautiful music warmed my heart; the powerful reading of appropriate Scriptures rekindled hope; and the artful delivery of the shepherd’s story brought to life a touching perspective. My heart was turned to Christ, and now I could truly enjoy this season.
There was conviction of sin in this process as well. I had to confess that I had allowed the world to dictate my thoughts and attitudes and to influence my enjoyment of the season. God graciously and tenderly plowed my heart and helped me refocus on what a wonderful gift was given to me when Christ was born. So, with great joy and rejoicing I send greetings to each of my readers and pray God will set in your heart a refocus on Christ and why he had to come into this sin-cursed world. “What shall I give him? Give him my heart.”
Merry Christmas! The Lord be praised!