All I want for Christmas
Tell me what's messed up about that title. You might not have any idea because it's how you've always done Christmas; Mom and Dad ask you to make a list of what you want and from there you pretty much know how your whole Christmas is going to go. But don't you sometimes wonder if that's really how this holiday should be celebrated? What other birthday do we celebrate by getting as greedy as possible and making a list of everything we expect to get from others? Well...we celebrate our own that way but generally not other peoples'.
I was reading in Esther the other day, and at the end of the book, when the Jews have all been liberated from their enemies, they celebrate by declaring a holiday, or in their words - "days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor.". They celebrated by giving. Not by getting. Isn't that what we're supposed to be celebrating at Christmas? We have a Savior who lived and died to set us free from our enemies, and once a year we celebrate His birthday, because without Him we're all dead. So how is it celebrating Him to get completely focused on ourselves and obsess over what we want and hope to get at the end of the month?
The problem is we've all been brainwashed and it's coming at us from every side. Think about it. Your parents encourage you to make a list so you get what you want. Then Santa gets into the game and you're supposed to send him a list too, except he's not nearly as nice as Jesus because he only gives gifts to the good kids (Jesus gave to all of us equally even though we're all technically on the naughty list). Then the advertisers and marketers throw in and now nobody stands a chance, because they want you to think that you need to buy X number of things in order to be happy. So now your parents, a larger-than-life historical icon, every song on the radio, and the entire United States free market is telling you that the best way to celebrate Christmas this year is by making a list of everything you might ever want and throwing all your energy into getting it. Merry Christmas.
Well I'm here to tell you that it's a lie. At some point in your life this method of celebrating Christmas is going to let you down completely. Your parents won't always be around to get you whatever you want and there's no guarantee that anyone else will either. If you let Christmas be a celebration of you instead of a celebration of the One it should be about, you're headed for some big disappointment. But if you shift the focus, starting today, to making this about Jesus, and think about giving gifts in celebration instead of getting stuff, you might just learn what the holiday is really about. How better to celebrate the gift of a Savior than by sharing that gift with others instead of asking for more gifts.
One of my most memorable Christmases was the year my Mom died and I ended up alone on Christmas Eve. There were no presents, and my family was all somewhere else, and I remember thinking I had this great opportunity to get it right in that moment. So I put on some worship music and stood looking out at the stars and singing praises to the One who saved me. And as I sang, my thankfulness grew bigger and bigger and I wasn't alone anymore in that house. It felt like I was singing with Jesus and His choir and as we sang the snow started falling, big and slow, like a pure gift from God. I've gotten a lot of Christmas gifts over the years, and to be honest I've forgotten most of them, but that one... I'll remember forever. I think that was the closest I've ever gotten to celebrating Jesus and nothing else for His birthday.
Merry Christmas everyone!