On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Matthew 2:11
Erin and I were at a conference in NC last week, for which we drove down the night before it began. During dinner (we "dinned in"—at Chick-fil-A!), I was suddenly very much aware of how disinterested I am in Christmas this year. I generally really enjoy it and love so much about it, so I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. I wrote it off to being really tired, as this past year has contained more than its fair share of challenge. But as I pondered the thought throughout the night, I awoke with a little more clarity.
Here's how that played out.
If you're a believer in the Lordship of Jesus Christ (a disciple/follower), you can hopefully see how very commercialized Christmas has become—in many places overall, but we'll focus on America. And it’s been moving and growing in that direction for many years. Even so, for much of its history there has been a balance of Christ at the center of all the madness. However, we’ve now reached the point in our culture where Jesus has been removed from pretty much everything—even Christmas.
Truly, the guest of honor has been locked out of His own party.
Over the years, the focus of Christmas has shifted from the Christ Child and why He came, and therefore the immensity of what God has given and the beauty of where this is all heading eternally, to what we get here and now. And, as in most areas of our every-day life, many don’t want Him present to remind them of what we’re supposed to be celebrating in the first place. (I mean, seriously, it’s become a big deal to say, Merry Christmas?)
Pondering the transition, it became clear that the disinterest I’m wrestling is not due to the traditions we enjoy like the giving of gifts, or Christmas break, or family gatherings, or even the western privilege of putting on extra holiday weight; neither is it the result of the time and effort spent on creating beautiful decorations and memorable festivities. These are all wonderful. Rather, it's with the magnified muchness of “ourselves” to the degree that we're comfortable celebrating the celebration instead of the reason for the celebration—the effect over the cause.
In short, the trouble is not the presence of presents, but the absence of presence.
Bring Jesus back into the picture and place Him in His rightful place at the center of it all, and everything will find its balance. And, the funny thing is, when we bring Him in and truly lavish Him in the glory of His Lordship and majestic splendor with the gift of fully laid-down lives, we receive everything we could ever hope for, and more. When our eyes are fixed on Him the way His were fixed on the Father, we catch glimpses of the joy that awaits, and not only does it take us through anything this life brings, it enables us to give more than we have along the way—which is the best thing ever! Oh, and a very cool byproduct, it also makes others want to come with us.
He came to make His glory known, that we might know Him for Who He is and want to go home. So, in my disinterest of the commercialism of Christmas, I won’t be pulling back from all the traditions this year. Instead, as His ambassador of righteousness, I’ll be bringing the King of Kings and Lord of Lords into each aspect of it — that He might be exalted to His rightful place as Guest of Honor.
I pray you each have a beautiful, family-friend-rich Christmas this year. May your hearts be enriched with His goodness because of His presence in you and the work of His Spirit through you.
Oh, and and a very heart-felt, Merry Christmas! from the Barry’s.