Because I didn’t have the computer and Internet access I generally do, I was unable to write my typical set of advent posts. I will, however, share some of the writings from previous turinsblog Christmases; of such is the following:
who is coming to town?: He is said to come around Christmas time; His face is in a lot of ‘seasonal’ literature; we sing songs to Him; children everywhere recognize His name; He’s the ornament on our tree, the inflatable in our yard, the fairy tale on the Christmas Eve bedside. And nobody but kids seem to believe in Him. Who is He? Not Santa Clause; Jesus.
Christmas is one of the only remaining Holidays in which Christ is still acknowledged in even the most secular circles. You’ll even find Him at Wal-Mart. But where’s the meaning in all of it? Is Christmas just another time for Christ’s image to be exalted in our culture, but not His person? Is it a time of uplifting, or degrading?
It might be both. Christians all over the place are celebrating the Birth of Christ at this time, earnestly, and some in very concrete ways (well projects were what I was thinking of). Some families gather year after year, to sit around a roaring space heater or floor vent and read the story of Jesus’ birth. J.C. Ryle, in his book Practical Religion, uses this holiday (in the traditional sense, before department stores and Black Fridays) to represent the epitome of family warmth and fellowship. Churches dust off the long neglected carols, which are so great that they ought to be sung year round. We love carols: I have two Christmas CDs myself. So, Christmas can be a time for lifting up Christ‘s name.
But on a large scale, Jesus is seen as just another Christmas icon. A Santa Clause for Christians. I don’t know who’s idea it was to only celebrate the incarnation once a year, but do we really have to use that as an excuse to drag the name of Christ through the mud? To tie all the worldly things that we can to His name? We’ve reached the place where the story of Jesus is so commonplace that even at Church we treated as a fable. Isn’t better to give Christ the glory He deserves, even if that means less people at the special service in December, than to have an entire nation that is satisfied to have no more of Christ than what is printed on the card they bought?
We need to go beyond, “What does Christmas mean to you?” I like that kind of question. But we need to take it further: “What does Jesus mean to you?” Christmas, like Easter, should be seen as an opportunity to talk about Christ. I know that’s easy to say from behind the keyboard, and that it is sometimes hard to start those sorts of conversations. (Thank God things like that aren’t easy). But it is our duty to stand, not to kneel under the culturally excepted ideas of the Season. Also, Christmas can be a great time to start conversations with other Christians, whether there are the sort you get nervous around and find hard to talk to or you just don’t see them much.
When we get up on Christmas morning, what if we were to show through the way we spoke and acted that Christ were more important to us than the gifts under the paper? What sort of difference would it make? What if we did so year round? Hmm? We should pray for focus, not on the fact that “Santa Claus has come to town” (in other words, toys and gadgets are ours for the having), but on this: Christ came to the little town of Bethlehem, and God was joined to humanity forever, and that the same Child who was in the manger died on the cross for us, now sits at the right hand of God in Heaven.