Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Can We Reclaim Christmas?

The child sat on Santa's lap, unsure if the jolly old man would grant her wish.

"You see, I'm Jewish," she said.

"Oh, that's all right," Santa said, "Santa doesn't care if you're Jewish or Buddhist or Muslim. He doesn't care if you're black or white or red or green or blue. Santa loves all children the same."

It was supposed to be a sweet moment, but it turned my stomach the way Santa (a fictional character we elevate to superstar status) took credit for the kind of love only Jesus can give. And it irked me that people who don't give any homage to Jesus still want to claim His holiday.

Yet I know I am just as guilty. Satan has done a masterful job of distracting us from the real meaning of Christmas, infusing it with all sorts of rituals and traditions that have nothing to do with the Christ child. I've got a Christmas tree in my living room, presents resting underneath. I've fallen victim to the pressure of creating the perfect holiday for my kids, spending more than I probably should. Twinkling lights hang throughout my house. We'll bake and decorate cookies, eat far too much. Stockings line the banister. We'll drink our traditional egg nog and 7 Up and eat soup at Christmas Eve. And none of it, NONE of it has anything to do with Jesus' birth.

My spirit feels the dichotomy. Tension mounts in my frenzy to get all the Christmas preparations done while something within longs only for stillness, quiet. I sense it isn't right, this strange way of celebrating the birth of Jesus. It feels pagan, too much about us and those we love, without enough solitude to hear Him beckon. And yet I don't know how to reclaim it, to satisfy this yearning in me to make it more, to make it special beyond the thoughtfulness of gifts and good will.

“Christmas belongs to us, the believers of Christ, it doesn’t belong to the world. Christ needs to be elevated in our hearts year around. He didn’t come to be marketed as a seasonal gift on sale for half price. We were the ones that were bought at price.”

David Jeremiah
Shouldn't I try to reclaim it for Him? But how? I like to sit in my living room lit only by Christmas lights, all by myself, and quietly reflect on Jesus, what He's done in my life, who I am because of Him. I like to sit there and ponder, trying in some small way to remember the night my Lord was born. I admit it doesn't happen every year, but when it does, my soul rests and knows gratitude and wonders at the Blessed Baby.


Is reclaiming Christmas a matter of focusing on Him? How can we do that better?

How do you try to reclaim Christmas?

To visit more In Other Words participants, visit Karen at In Love W.I.T.H. Jesus.

Photo Credit: ecastro


Denise said...

Heart felt post.

Karen said...

That was really good. Its sad to hear people talk about Santa as if he was Jesus. How caring, loving, great he is, able to save the world. Jesus is the true hero in the Christmas story that goes beyond December for all eternity. He's not restricted to the North Pole or anywhere else. He's an awesome wonderful Savior and friend. Thanks for sharing today.

Julie said...

Everything has to do with Christ if we make it so. The rituals and traditions of Christmas can turn our hearts and our minds toward Him rather than away. All of the activity - lights, tree, food, gifts - isn't the enemy. I believe that He is glorified in our pleasure of Him and His gifts to us.

I don't think Christmas needs "reclaiming," but I do think this time of Advent (Latin for "coming") is overlooked in many evangelical churches. What a beautiful opportunity for His people all over the world to look back on His first coming with gratitude, and to look forward as a whole to His coming again with excited anticipation!

So, I don't think it's so much a matter of "reclaiming," but of living each day reflecting on His glory, His honor, His infinite knowledge and mercy and grace...

As I eluded to above, I think the traditions and rituals of church life (that can also carry over to home life) are a vital way to remember Him and glorify Him.

I'll speak boldly (only because I know I can with you, Tami!): trying to reclaim Christmas seems to be missing the point, and can only serve to fill one with guilt and regret, definitely not where He wants our hearts and minds to be this season or ever.

I love you, dear friend. Thanks for posting!

Tami Boesiger said...

Yes! I lured Julie out of lurkdom! So great to hear from you, friend. Truly. I miss your quick and unpredictable mind.

I think my frustration comes, not from guilt or regret, but from so many things and activities that pull me away from Jesus. It feels like too much to do, when all I want to do is be still, to reflect, to listen. Perhaps I need extra time than usual with God during this season.

My unsettled feeling this year has caused me to reflect on Him more than ever, has stirred my longing, has made me utter many times of feeling unfit for this world. I suppose one could call that progress in changing my focus, that I am learning to set my mind on Him. My overriding desire is to do Christmas better, to honor Him more, to weed away the distractions. I find it difficult to do.

Sigh. I'm sure we could have a lively discussion about this in person, huh? Praying you have a peaceful, meaningful Christmas. Love you.

Denise J. Hughes said...

Your words resonate deeply. My desire this Christmas is to rest, basking in His presence.

Loni said...

I so understand the reclaiming, esp. where Santa is concerned, stealing God's glory. But even if we stay away from "Santa" it can be the stresses of life, gifts, lack of $$, etc. that become the focal point too. So appreciate your thoughts, and the comments too! :)

Julie said...

Hey lady...

Yes, you lured me out with this post! I love that I can speak/write my mind with you and know that it'll be ok.

Maybe it's just the season of my life with little kiddos without too many "outside" activities, so I have a hard time relating to feeling too busy...but I can definitely understand those longings for quiet, reflection, meditation on Him and His Word.

I'm glad your unsettled feeling has stirred you to longing...the mysterious ways of His Spirit working in us - I love that!

Wanting to honor Him more and to "weed out distractions" is such a great place to be. I just don't think it has to be difficult. Maybe I'm naive in my thoughts on this, but it just seems to me that, if we are seeking after Him in all, through all, and with all...then the "distractions" aren't distractions anymore, but rather, opportunities to listen, serve, sit, act, think, pray, fast, move, rest...and it becomes easier and easier to draw near to Him IN these activities themselves.

Yes, times of purposeful quiet are needed, and times of rest and reflection. But what if we could get to that place of quiet and awe and worship on the inside, despite what was going on around us???

If I may, I think I will pray that for you this Christmas season, friend. In Him,

Michael said...

...turned my stomach the way Santa (a fictional character we elevate to superstar status) ....Pot..Kettle???