Summary: Part of a series on recaliming Christ as part of our Christmas season.
“SEASONING OUR GREETINGS”
TEXT: Colossians 4: 2-18
Sunday, December 1, 2002
I know it is early in the season, but I’ll keep asking you this question throughout Advent–“Are you having fun yet?” Gallup did a poll asking people if they were having more fun this year than last year. Do you think people are having more fun or less fun? 52% said they are having less fun, 34% said about the same, and 17% said more fun. I read a statement in the paper that captures why this is. A lady is upset about all the talk about Jesus and Christmas. She says, “If you want to celebrate, that’s fine with me. I work in a women’s clothing shop and we play carols all the time. I have been to several holiday parties, and the name of Jesus doesn’t ever come up. I see people coming into the store with their eyes glazed over from shopping. They ask me if I have my shopping done and I tell them I don’t have any Christmas shopping to do. They tell me how lucky I am.”
Why are people not enjoying Christmas? I think this story capture the heart of the problem. People have left out the very Spirit of Christmas.
I read another article about a teacher in the public school system who said it is difficult to handle the Christmas season. Here’s what she said, “It’s probably the hardest holiday to celebrate in the schools. Teaching about the holidays is becoming increasingly touchy in the public schools. The reasons depend on who you ask. It’s called progress. I have been a teacher for 18 years and I have always let sensitivity to the individual be my guide. I have noticed in recent years that children are more aware of the issues. If I tell them that we celebrate Christmas to give to and love each other, they will say that it’s because the Baby Jesus was born. It is not the schools’ policy to teach religion, and I have to handle the children’s responses.”
It is interesting that children know what Christmas is all about, even those who are not church-going children. They know that the heart of Christmas is Christ, and we need to keep that central in our focus or we will miss out on the very spirit and significance of the season. Like the average American, we will experience the season as being less fun.
The culture that we live in has some animosity about Christmas. We cannot allow that culture to permeate our lives and our celebrations and rob us of its meaning and significance. Some of us come from secular families and didn’t grow up with a Christian heritage. When I became a Christian, the meaning of Christmas changed a little bit. It wasn’t about presents anymore–it was about Jesus and everything we did then was a celebration of Jesus. However, the celebration didn’t change at all. Initially, the way I did things didn’t change. I did the same things, but I did them to honor Jesus. The result was that there was little depth in my celebration. I had not given my Christmas traditions over to God. They were not influenced by scripture. The reason I hadn’t done this was because I felt it would rob me of the childhood magic that I had experienced in my own family. I thought that by “getting religious” about the holiday, it would become dull, less mysterious and less fun. I didn’t want to rob my children of all those feelings. I was settling for sentiment instead of the spirit.
The consequences were radical. As a result, a lot of bad attitudes crept into our Christmas celebration. I felt that lights were extravagant and the Christmas tree was a hassle. There were too many gifts. The wise men only brought three, but then my daughter reminded me that they were gold, frankincense and myrrh–expensive things! Along with that, I was harsh and had a quick temper. Things were not all calm and bright in my Christmas celebrations.
What helped me get a handle on this and allowed me to turn my Christmas traditions over to Christ was when I got married. My wife is a very solid Christian woman and she told me that we had to change some things. We discovered as a family that the more we gave our Christmas traditions over to Christ, the more meaningful they were, the more fun they became, the more mysterious things were. There were less disturbances in our home and it became a spiritually enriching experience.
I encourage you throughout the Christmas season to give your traditions over to Christ and ask how to celebrate him. I encourage you to look over all your traditions and evaluate them. List your expectations and talk about them. Then list your limitations and admit them. Don’t drive yourself nuts trying to do it all. Ask which traditions focus upon Christ and honor him. If there are some that don’t, make the choice to spice them up or eliminate them.