Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas Spirit

The other day my eldest daughter asked me "mom, what is Christmas spirit"? In the days that followed, I found myself lingering on that question and pondering it in my own heart. I like what Dan Schaeffer had to say about it:
"One Christmas I read a newspaper article written by a reporter who had been searching for the meaning of “the Christmas spirit.” When he concluded his quest, he rated this answer as the best: “It’s in your heart. It feels warm and glowy. You can’t buy it, and you can’t get it from anybody else.” That’s the popular concept of “the Christmas spirit”—it’s inside us. We just have to “get” it. So, does it hit when we unpack our decorations and start playing Christmas music? Does it require a Christmas tree? One strand of lights? Two? Is it more presents? Or does it come down to out-dazzling our neighbors with a bigger outdoor display? 
I decided to re-read the Christmas story in the Bible. I wanted to study the reaction of those shepherds—working the night shift!—who were the first people to get the news of the birth of Baby Jesus. After seeing him, we’re told that they returned to their sheep “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen” (Luke 2:8-20).
Now shepherds in those days weren’t the gentle, soft-spoken fellows that greeting cards portray. More likely they were rough-cut and hardy. When the Bible says they were glorifying and praising God, it’s describing something like the last second of a playoff game when the home team wins, and the whooping and hollering cut loose! That was likely the only kind of “glorifying” they knew how to do…and they were awestruck!
Christ’s birth, enthusiastically celebrated by hard-working shepherds, changed everything! That baby was the living proof that God really did love the world so much “that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
And that baby brings us back to the question, “What is the Christmas spirit?” I believe it’s a deep-seated joy in knowing that the story of the Christ Child is gloriously true! Many will celebrate Christmas this year, experience gifts and excitement, but never connect the celebration with the reason for it. They’re like people at a wedding reception who celebrate enthusiastically, but don’t even know the bride and groom!
That’s the difference between those who really have the Christmas spirit and those who don’t. For those who have it, you could remove the trees, lights, presents, food, and music, and their joy would still be intact! That’s because the story of God coming to Earth as a baby is true, and they’ve come to personally know the Christ who was born in a manger!"
Christmas, as we know it today, is a far cry from it's humble beginnings. A tale of two terrified teenagers huddling in a cave, the hosts of heaven holding their breath in anticipation.  An underdog, born to two Jewish teenagers, in a cave, surrounded by dirty hay and noisy livestock. Not sanitary or idyllic. And yet, this fragile, innocent baby was the hope for all mankind. Sometimes I can't help but think, "really God, was that the best idea you could come up with"?
Nevertheless, nothing moves my soul than singing "Oh holy night" and thinking about how God humbled himself, became flesh and dwelt among his beloved creation. It's mind blowing, heart melting and leaves me in wonder. Honestly, my favorite part about Christmas is the Christmas Eve service. I love singing robust Christmas Carols with other people, often with tears of joy streaming down my cheeks.

Sometimes I try and fathom Christmas without Jesus. A Christmas entirely based on Coca Cola "Santa Clause", presents under the tree, and all the different traditions that our society and cultural have created. As much and I LOVE decorating, and images like the one below made my heart swoon, they are like eating stale bread when cheesecake is being served.  Christmas is ABOUT SO MUCH MORE!


Oh, we have been given the most mazing gift. Let's not loose sight of it in the chaos or the beauty of this season. Listening to  Chris Tomlin's new Christmas Album "Adore" helps me keep my heart and my priorities in the right place. Check it out HERE on spotify web player. My favorite song on the album is "He shall reign forever more (live)". So good!

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