So, today as I was driving home from work, I turned on the radio and there it was, a Christmas song. I tuned to another station and there it was again, another Christmas song, then it happened again! I turned off the radio. “Wait, I’m not ready for this!” my heart said. Walking backwards in my mind of all the major events that have transpired over the past month; Ekiah’s birthday on November 14th, my fathers birthday on the 17th, then a crazy week long trip to California for the Thanksgiving holiday (and two 20 hour road trips there and back!) then my birthday on the 30th! “Is it really that time already! I’m not ready for this!”
My mind immediately went to questions of our budget; had we saved enough for all the things that the kids want? Have I saved enough to get Arielle something nice this year? Are we going to drive to California again? Wait…I’m so not ready for this!
Then, from out of nowhere, I heard the passage:
“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me…” – Matthew 15:8
That’s me. Not intentionally, not with a spirit of condemnation, but almost an awakening to the idea! Ya, awakening is a better word for it. Almost like the fog of the holiday season was lifted and I could see what it really was to me. Such utter clarity and focus! Its like Paul writes in Ephesians 5:14; “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
I saw that the holidays were being elevated over the Holy Days. That in my own way, I had replaced the real reason for our celebration of this season with the consumerism and family parties that make this season what it typically turns out to be.
But then my religious pride kicked in. Wait Eric, you celebrate Christmas all year long. You are a disciple, you think of Jesus all the time, why should you make a big deal about Christmas? Its not even the real birth date of Jesus anyway! But then the awakening got deeper. “Why then do we celebrate birthdays? I spend every day with my daughter, or my wife, why do they need a special day if I spend each and every day with them?” Oh, I see…its something deeper, something more!
If you are like me, the religious veneer of “Merry CHRISTmas” comes and goes without a second thought. We sing the songs of baby Jesus in a manger. We have the cute little figurines of the stable, the cows and wise men bringing gifts. We might even read the account of the birth of Christ in the scriptures, but do we really understand the significance of the birth of Christ? I think if we are truly honest with ourselves, it comes and goes without much thought. And that is exactly what Satan is hoping for. That is what he was hoping for in me, before the awakening!
What I want to do, over the next month, is help you to not only bring Christ back into Christmas, or focus on the “Real reason for this season,” but to awaken your heart to what truly happened when Jesus was born. Many mainline denominations call this time of year Advent, which is Latin for The Coming of Promise. My prayer is that you will soon see that there is much more to the story than a little baby being born in a stable with the eyes of farm animals looking on.
Come, sit down and stay a while as we rediscover Christmas together.