Wednesday, December 2, 2009

So this is Christmas

Happy December everybody! In my house, the first week of December officially marks the beginning of the Christmas season; the Christmas lights get turned on, Christmas CDs are dusted off and put into the stereo, the Christmas tree goes up and this year the first week of December even included our first snow fall of the season... Christmas is oficially here!



Over the past couple of years I have been struggling with the way our society celebrates Christmas and last year more so than any other year, I just felt like we were missing the point. I would like to share with you some of what I wrote in my journal last year on Christmas day... Let me preface the rest of this post by saying that it is not my intention to judge or offend anyone. I recognize that Christmas is indeed a wonderful time for families to enjoy one another's presence and make beautiful memories. These are simply the reflections of what God has put on my heart...

So, this is Christmas but what does it all mean? This year, more so than any other year, I just feel like we're missing the point. Over the past couple of years I have found myself face to face with the brokenness of this world. What I have seen has changed me, I can no longer live my life in ignorance. The pain of this world has left me broken, I can't go back and, as much as it hurts, I wouldn't even if I could. This year Christmas was different as I spent the months and weeks leading up to it preparing Christmas baskets for nearly 300 families. Our family cut way back on gifts and one could accurately say that this Christmas was more about giving and not really about consumerism at all. And yet this year Christmas left me emptier than ever before. So, what is the point? We know that Christmas isn't really about gifts and parties and stuffing your face full of food so what is it about? Is it about travelling home, spending time with family and making memories? That's what we've been told but where do we get that from? Isaiah 61 says that Jesus came to preach good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, to release the oppressed, to comfort all who mourn. Jesus was born to poor parents who gave birth to Him in a barn. And who were the first to get to see Him? Lowly shepherds. Throughout Jesus' years on earth He spent time with the poor and the oppressed, the lowly and the outcast. That's what Jesus was all about, so where did we get the idea that Christmas is all about spending time with family and making memories?... There's nothing wrong with a nice family Christmas but if Jesus were here where would He be? The answer is simple, He'd be the same place He was 2000 years ago, with the poor and the lowly. So, what is Christmas all about? How should we celebrate the birth of our Savior? Well, we can spend the day with our family trying to remember and be thankful for all His birth has meant for us or we can go out there and spend the day with Jesus Himself right where He's at, proclaiming good news to the poor, releasing the oppressed, binding up the brokenhearted, comforting those who mourn, continuing the work He started 2000 years ago. So tonight I make a vow thaty next year will be different. I will not just celebrate the season, I will celebrate the Messiah and everything He came to do. I wil spend Christmas day in a soup kitchen or a shelter or Uganda or Cambodia but I will not spend the day wondering what's the point... 

So, that is how God has been challenging me. I won't be spending Christmas in an orphanage like I had hoped but I am determined that I will find a way to spend Christmas with "the least of these"... What about you? What is God calling you to do? I'm not talking about getting rid of all of your family traditions but how about starting a new tradition this year? Give gifts that make a real difference, help out with your local food bank or soup kitchen. Ask God what He would like your family to do in honor of His Son's birthday. Find a way to truly celebrate Jesus and everything He came to do.

Love this song by Matthew West...

Give This Christmas Away

What if I told you, you had the power
To give someone hope beyond they're wildest dreams
What if I told you, it's right there in your hands
In your hands

It's hard to imagine how something so small
Could make all the difference, tear down the tallest wall
What if December looked different this year
What if we all just...

Give this christmas away
If there's love in your heart, don't let it stay there
Give this christmas away
And your life will be changed by the gift you receive
When you give this christmas away

It's feeding the hungry, it's serving the poor
It's telling the orphan you're not forgotten anymore
It's doing what love does even when no one's watching you

Give this christmas away
If there's love in your heart, don't let it stay there

Give this christmas away
And your life will be changed by the gift you receive
When you give this christmas away

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son
So we could be His hands, His feet, His love

What if I told you, you had the power

To give someone hope far beyond they're wildest dreams
What if December looked different this year

What if we all just...

Give this christmas away
If there's love in your heart, don't let it stay there
Give this christmas away

And your life will be changed by the gift you receive
When you give this christmas away
Give this christmas away
You have the power to give it away

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