We've wrestled, especially since we have had kids, about how to celebrate Christmas. What traditions to include? What to leave out? How to make our actions and traditions line up with our message that it is all about Jesus.
Isn't that really what a life lived for Christ is all about? Making sure my life reflects my confession. Because if it doesn't . . . my confession means nothing and isn't really the truth in my heart.
Christmas is just one aspect where this tension is obvious and great. And frankly, where a lot of followers of Christ throw in towel, intentionally or not.
I'm obviously not the only one thinking about this dilemma. A blogger I follow, Jen Hatmaker, wrote an amazing post about this just the other day. Definitely read it if you haven't. Straight to the heart of the issue and so funny!
We've made decisions in effort to place Christ at the center of the celebration, where He belongs (dropping Santa, Advent calendar, reducing number of prizes, birthday cake for Jesus . . . to name a few). But I still feel like there are things in our Christmas traditions that need to change. I want to be willing to lay it all, ALL, on the altar. To see age old traditions, or even harder . . . family traditions, burnt up and the ashes taken outside the camp, never to return.
This is where it gets real, y'all! Santa wasn't hard at all for us to toss out because he makes parents have to spend more money and just plain isn't needed to have a great Christmas.
Take it a step further though and it hurts. I love me a Christmas tree and twinkle lights. The glow just makes me feel cozy the whole month of December. But I'm really wrestling with how on earth they point to a baby in a manger who was born to take away the sins of the world.
Why do we get each other prizes? I'm not necessarily saying that this is wrong, but why is it a part of how we celebrate? How does it point to our Savior? I know Jesus got gifts from the wise men, but probably not at his actual birth and this connection is stretched a little too far when we end up knee-high in wrapping paper on Christmas morning.
But it isn't just about what we don't do. We have to be intentional about the things we do to celebrate Jesus. After laying it all on altar, we need take up what God approves. What He declares as a fitting way to celebrate His Son.
Because have I, have we, forgotten that Christmas is in fact all about Jesus? That He alone is the reason we celebrate. Contrary to the what the media says, what the government says, or sadly
what our actions say . . . Santa, presents, and a focus on self and
stuff and more, more, more is NOT the reason for the season.
In sending His Son, God was showing Himself faithful to the promise He gave way back in Genesis 3 as He cursed the serpent and assured Satan that one day an Offspring of Eve would crush his head. Praise be to God that He is faithful!
All humanity was helpless and hopeless. Separated from God with no way . . . NO WAY . . . to do anything about it on their own. But God did what we could not do. He, the God of the Universe, came to dwell among sinful people. Emmanuel. God with us.
He went on to live the sinless life that we couldn't dream of living. He fulfilled the law perfectly. He died the death that we deserve to die as punishment for our sin. Then He defeated sin and was victorious over death through the resurrection. Our only hope for being born again and living a life of faith is in Jesus and Him alone.
The Gospel is beautiful and powerful and we don't deserve it one bit.
And a little baby boy born to a young girl in a Bethlehem stable is what ushered in the Gospel as a reality. That is why we celebrate.
In Jen's blog, she uses a quote from a friend about how weird it is that Christians talk all year about the awesome truth of the Gospel, but then on Christmas feel the need to add lots of other stuff to jazz up the holiday. Essentially proclaiming that Jesus isn't enough. That the Gospel isn't grand enough to "carry" the celebration.
That's a lie straight from the pit of hell and I want no part in making it seem like the truth. Or worse, believing it as the truth. Teaching it as truth to my kids. Sick and shameful and not worthy of the calling we have received.
Many probably think that this is way overboard. And that's okay. I'm learning to embrace the idea of being "foolish" for Christ!
I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you celebrate Jesus in your family. If you wrestle with this too and what God is speaking to you about it.
** I wrote this post a few hours ago and have continued to meditate on it. I also just read this post on Ann Voskamp's blog. Read it. So powerful!
I just read Jesus' words from Matthew 25 this morning . . . "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." If we are giving gifts, who deserves them more than the Birthday Boy? And He clearly tells us that a gift to Him is one that is given to others, to the least of these.
Is this too much? I think of changing everything and it scares me and I think of the ramifications and they scare me. But then I think of the joy in giving. The joy in truly giving Jesus what He desires. And then I get excited at the possibilities. Excited about my heart and the hearts of my children being wrapped up, consumed with the Gospel. Even at Christmas.