I am trying to do something different for Christmas this year. Oh, I will celebrate Christmas, certainly. I will sing carols and attend programs. I will buy gifts and decorate the house. I will go to parties and eat too much. I am going to celebrate in some of the traditional ways that I have always celebrated. But this year I am going to celebrate a little differently as well.
I think that a part of my problem is that all of those “traditions” of Christmas, at least the ones I mentioned, do not necessarily have anything to do with the birth of Jesus, the Messiah. And the birth of Jesus seems pretty important to me (duh!). So I want to focus on the things that will remind me of Jesus, God's son. I want to remember that God came into the world as human baby. He became the perfect gift, the ultimate sacrifice for you and me.
Now, I don't want you to misunderstand. I love Santa Claus, reindeer, the Grinch, Rudolph and my two front teeth. All of those parts of the holiday are great and I enjoy them as much as the next guy. But they don't help me worship. They don't lead me to Jesus. They don't alleviate any of my problems or take away any burdens. Only Jesus can do that.
On Sundays during Advent I will be focusing on what is being called the Advent Conspiracy. Each Sunday we will talk about a different element of what we might consider re-claiming the work of God in the Christmas holiday.
Give More. We are all tempted to give at Christmas time. But we should take care in our giving. We should give to people, but we should give gifts that are meaningful to us and to the recipient. We might think about the time it takes to give, or the sacrifice involved. Our gifts should maybe be more thoughtful.
Spend Less. Somewhere along the line we began to equate quality with money. I am an advocate of the idea that we can give great gifts, throw good parties and have the best Christmas ever without making a reservation for the poor farm.
Worship Fully. It is easy to relegate worship to a secondary priority on our list of holiday obligations. And even when we do worship, we are so busy and distracted by other obligations that we don't give our best to the Lord. The truth ought to be that we give him our best, our most, our all, especially in worship.
Love All. Often we think of our family and our community first. I think that's how it should be, but we also must be careful to not forget, nor neglect others, close to home and around the world. We should be giving and loving everyone- even those that we might think are unlovable.
Join me for an Advent Conspiracy. Let's celebrate Christmas as much as we can. And as hard as we can. And as thoroughly as we can. But this year let's also remember to celebrate Advent.