Lights and decorations. Finding the perfect gift. Mailing the Christmas cards before Christmas. Holiday galas and office parties. Cookies, eggnog and other indulgences. Christmas movies on Lifetime and Hallmark. And, of course no Christmas season is complete without Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas.” Awww…the sights, sounds and tastes of Christmas. There is something special and celebratory about the Christmas season.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with these, and other, cultural experiences associated with Christmas, I ask the question of all Believers who profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior: How does your celebration of Christmas look different than a non-believer? There is something erroneous when our celebration of the birth of Christ looks identical to everyone else’s.
How do we keep the Christ in Christmas? Each Believer will have to answer that for him or herself. However, the Magi in Matthew 2: 1-12 offer a starting point to consider. The Magi went to worship Jesus and in doing so, they brought him gifts. Having a worshipful attitude during the holiday season helps us keep Jesus in the forefront of all that we do. Go ahead and drink your eggnog at the office party but create space in your life to reflect on the birth of Christ and what that means for all of humanity and what that means for you.
The Magi didn’t go to worship Jesus empty-handed. Giving is an act worship and an act of love. Yet, we have perverted this act of worship with capitalistic consumerism. When did celebrating the birth of Christ become synonymous with big screen televisions, new iPhones, the latest fashion trend? Believers can construct new ways to give. We can give our service. We can give our time. We can give our talents. And, while organizations that depend of volunteers to sustain them is one option, we also can consider how to give to those within our own reach—family members, neighbors, friends—to help lighten the loads they carry.
Personally, I am in favor of getting rid of any obligatory activities about this season that causes needless stress. However, if you enjoy the cultural traditions of Christmas, you don’t have to stop doing those things. But, we should examine why we do what we do. For those of us who call ourselves disciples of Christ, our celebration should look different from the world’s. We can start by making sure we have incorporated both worship and the spiritual act of giving into our celebrations.