Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength! (Nehemiah 8:10 NLT)
Remember How the Grinch Stole Christmas, one of the fondest Christmas movies there is? The Grinch was miserable, angry, bitter, and determined to make everyone around him the same. He was wrapped up in the affairs of the world and knew nothing of joy. But when the Whos in Whoville got up Christmas morning and celebrated, even though the Grinch had stolen all their gifts and festivities, he realized true joy is found only in your heart.
Right now, the stores are swamped, traffic is thick, bargains are being paraded in front of weary shoppers, money is being depleted that may be needed elsewhere, and many people will spend Christmas in a state of despair and depression. This is one holiday each year that can be filled with awe and merriment, but beleaguered with sadness and pain.
Nehemiah, through opposition and with extreme faith, enlisted the people to rebuild Jerusalem and was able to provide all that they needed. Each group of families repaired a section of the wall until it was complete. After, they celebrated with much merriment. But the people were told to give gifts to those in need so they, too, could join in. Celebration was not to be self-centered; it was to be connected with giving. When we celebrate and give to others, we are strengthened spiritually and filled with the true joy of Jesus.
This Christmas, give tangibly to someone in need—not someone you know, but someone you’d not thought of before. Be like the Grinch, who turned his heart back to the true spirit of the season.
So, confession time with Abbie. (And don’t get excited – no stories of coffee shop humiliation today.)
Ready? Here goes…
I am a scrooge.
But not the kind of scrooge you might think.
I’m a scrooge in a way that is probably largely frowned upon in Christian circles. A scrooge with a bad church-girl secret: I hate stuff Christians say at Christmas time.
It’s true. There are a lot of cliches being thrown around this time of year. And umm… they sorta get on my nerves.
You know the ones I’m talking about? It’s not about the presents. Jesus is the reason for the season. Keep CHRIST in CHRISTmas. Wise men still seek Him. Santa is bad. Santa is just another way to spell Satan. Christmas traditions have pagan roots. Real Christians don’t get caught up in the glitter and commercialism of Christmas.
Okay, so maybe those last few aren’t exactly well-known cliches. But you definitely hear them this time of year. People can get a tad preachy and overbearing with their Super-Christian Christmas spirit. Christmas shopping, lights, trees, decorations, and that jolly man in the red suit are given an all around bashing in an attempt to put the focus back on Jesus. Which, in a roundabout way, brings me to another confession:
… I like presents, y’all. Just needed to get that off my chest.
Here’s the deal: I don’t want anyone to succeed in making you feel guilty for enjoying the trappings and trimmings of Christmas. Decorate. Celebrate. Go out to the mall and battle the crazy hordes of last minute shoppers, if that’s your style. (*Raises hand guiltily.) Listen to Jingle Bell Rock and Santa Baby if you like. (I won’t judge.) Watch Elf eight hundred times. Then watch it again if you want to.
But do yourself a favor this Christmas season: sneak away by yourself. Sit down, and take a while to let the authentic Christmas message seep into your very soul. Don’t do it because I’m telling you to. Or anyone else is telling you to. Do it because you want to. Do it because one day, approximately 2,012-ish years ago on a date that probably wasn’t December 25, a baby was born with one purpose.
History hinged on that one squalling infant because He came to do something incredibly, magnificently, mind-blowingly heroic.
He came to save us.
To save me. I know I need a savior, deep in the recesses of my grinch-like heart. (You know – two sizes too small?) I know it, and that is why I like to sneak away and soak in the hope.
I’m not here to preach y’all a sermon today. Those are easy to come by. I’m here to share a smidgen of honesty.
Don’t forgo the festivities in favor of sackcloth, ashes, and solemn remembrance – unless of course, you feel you should do so. Deck those halls. Put on that hideous reindeer sweater with the antler headband your Aunt Penelope gave you four years ago.
Be merry, and be out in the world. Just remember… you have a whole deeper reason for rejoicing.
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By RTF Editor Abbie Miller