It just doesn’t even seem possible that we are in December! For one, we have had a warmer Fall in Wyoming so we have barely put our coats on and, for two, it just seems that time goes by faster and faster! I remember that phenomenon as a child. As I got into later elementary, I marveled at how time seemed to go faster. I think that comes when we add more to our proverbial plate. Some of what we add is appropriate, some is just plain too much! Which brings me to today’s topic. What are we doing to celebrate the greatest event in history, Christ’s birth? Some of what we do is appropriate, and some is just plain too much!
It helps me to first STOP (Seek Him first, Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, Obey in action what He says, Prayerfully interact with His Spirit throughout the day) instead of just jumping into our cultural holiday traditions. Tradition can make life rich when done intentionally and meaningfully. However, many of us fall into many things because we are “supposed to” or for whatever reason feel obligated to.
I wonder what Jesus thinks when He sees us scurrying around “celebrating His birthday” and He is barely a thought in our minds? Hmmmm, what would I think and feel if someone threw me a birthday party, I show up and yet no one is even talking to me? Not only that, but they are giving birthday presents to everyone, but me?! Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think He is upset that we get gifts on HIS birthday; He’s just that kind of God. He loves to lavish gifts on us. However, if this is HIS birthday, what are we giving to Him? At the very least, I hope we are giving Him our attention, our hearts, and our appreciation. He came as a little baby, yes. But let’s not forget that He then grew up, served the world in many miraculous ways, and then died for us, paying the penalty for OUR sin, not HIS. For those of us who accepted this sacrifice and died to ourselves as we invited Him into our lives, we no longer have to worry about our eternal security AND we have a Helper to guide us and strengthen us this side of Heaven. That is a HUGE thing to be grateful for all year long, not just reserved for Christmas and Easter! Let’s not get so busy this Christmas that this most important reason we celebrate is barely a thought in our minds.
It is so easy in this culture to rush into everything and it is making us sick. Did you know that 75% of what gets us into the doctor’s office is stress related? How do you think He feels knowing that the stress of our scurrying around celebrating His birthday (not to mention the other 11 months out of the year serving Him in various ways), leads to some of our health problems? I think this grieves Him! He did not ask us to scurry and strive! “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” (Is. 30:15) God made us to live in rhythms of restful quiet and then energized activity. Yes, we are to DO things, but those things need to come out of a place of rest. We get restored and filled up in those times so that when it is time, we have sufficient capacity for the activity He calls us to. As believers, when we STOP and Seek Him first, ALL the other things will be added. (Mt. 6:33)
So let’s use our sanctified imaginations for a moment. What would our celebration of Christ’s birth look like this month if we did follow His Way of trust, quietness, rest and repentance (choosing HIS way not our way!)? I envision myself getting up every morning in quietness pondering what He did, being in the very nature God and yet humbling Himself to come as a baby. I might even get out a devotion that focuses on the Christmas events to ponder these events in depth (Ken Gire’s Intimate Moments with the Savior is a great one!). I might just sit and meditate on various aspects of the Christmas story and let my heart marinate in appreciation. I can envision this marinating in His goodness flavoring how I celebrate. I can see myself asking Him how He would like to celebrate like I ask every other family member what they want to do for their birthday. I can see how this would enable me to say no to some things since I have checked in with Him. I can see me getting to the New Year feeling blessed and peaceful and grateful that the season was meaningful, not scurried and crazy. Yes! He gets my absolute focus which will definitely lead to “all these things being added.”
I pray we all have get an UPGRADE from obligatory, automatic “celebrating” to a more intentional and meaningful Christmas celebration as we ponder its true meaning! Maybe we can help each other with the FUN (Finding Upgrades Now!) by posting in the comments below how we are intentionally celebrating this year. 🙂