Each year, as I grow and mature in my Christian faith, the Christmas season approaches for me with more and more mixed emotions. I have this internal pull; one that so badly wants to capture the “true meaning of Christmas” all the while so distracted by the worldly Christmas that fills up my calendar before December even begins.
I love the beauty of the decorative, lighted, celebratory season. I love the sights, sounds and smells that join us all together in a season of shopping, baking, decorating and celebrating. It has become a season that not only bonds Christians, but also people of all races and religions as we all join in the Christmas traditions created by man. In and of itself there is something really beautiful about taking one month out of the year to anticipate, prepare and celebrate with all my neighbors in every venue.
The internal conflict for me arises when I realize that all has nothing to do with the Savior who was born in a manger, surrounded by animals one quiet night so long ago. All of the pomp and circumstance is of our own human creation, driven by marketers and businesses. Nothing about Christ’s birth was pretty, or fancy, or decorative. It was all quite the opposite.
As a Christian I want to celebrate the fulfillment of a promise made by our God long before this little baby came into the world. The fulfillment of a Messiah who would walk this Earth for 33 very HUMBLE years, living amongst the people, loving the very least of them, serving and teaching and healing, not as the world would ever deem a King should live, but as a real, pure, simple and HUMBLE man. A man who would then, in turn, sacrifice his life in the most brutal of ways for ME and all of mankind so that my sins would forever be paid for.
How can I honor that sacrifice if I am so lost in decorating the perfect Christmas tree or stringing lights so all can drive by my home in awe?
Each year many Christians try and collide these two Christmases; the worldly one filled with festive decorations, music, parties and presents with the Holy one that is so simple, calm, quiet, peaceful and HUMBLE. We get angry when the Merry Christmas becomes “Happy Holidays” and red cups are just, well, red cups. We shout to the world to “KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS”, forcing our faith upon them, contradicting Christ’s posture of humble grace and love. We may even, as I do, struggle with the guilt of wanting to be a part of the worldly, festive Christmas all the while celebrating the humble birth of our Savior.
Maybe we need to step back and recognize that this season we are about to enter is really two, simultaneously occurring celebrations with such contrast because our Lord and Savior was and is such a contrast to this world He came to save. When He entered this world of ours in complete contradiction to the way that was expected of a King and lived in it, he did so with HUMILITY. He did not get angry at the world He entered, shouting at them to believe and see, but instead loved them to SIGHT.
When we enter our world, a world in many ways similar to the time of Jesus, we must do so in humility. We need to humbly point people, ourselves included, to His birth, and what His birth points to through the actions of our hearts and the love we have for our Savior we celebrate this season and every day.
This Christmas I am going to settle my internal struggle to celebrate in a way that honors Christ in my acknowledgement of His humility. It is a blessing to live in a time of such abundance that we can decorate our homes and host parties with lavish foods and purchase gifts to share. Instead of telling people to “Keep Christ in Christmas” I will just show them Christ through my heart, my humility and my desire to live out my faith.
I will enjoy the blessings of a trimmed tree and extra gatherings and celebrations all the while making sure my heart is walking through Advent with an attitude of humility and love.
Will you join me this season in keeping it humble?