Last week, I wrote about the dangers of ,” material possessions that can enslave you. With arguably the most commercialized holiday just around the corner, I encourage you to take the focus off of expensive gifts and place it on what is truly important.
In this case, it is remembering why we celebrate Christmas in the first place: the birth of our Lord and Savior and the beginning of the faith we now practice and dedicate our lives to. Think about how big that is. How important.
There used to be a time when families watched the Peanuts Christmas special and waited for the scene where Linus, in his sweet, child’s voice, read from Luke 42:
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
I remember as a child being touched by those words. I imagined the beautiful scene and was reminded of the importance of the holiday. This year, A Charlie Brown Christmas won’t even air on Network TV. It was purchased by Apple TV, so many of us no longer have access to it, other than through a YouTube video. Not quite the same thing as gathering the family around the TV, is it?
Here we are in 2020 needing God more than ever and He’s being removed from our lives, slowly but surely. Even the Hallmark movies I indulge in for the month leading up to Christmas barely – if ever – mention the religious significance of Christmas. Family, love, happiness – all wonderful themes in these movies, but not even a mention of the birth of Christ in movies that feature people in love with Christmas? Seems odd, doesn’t it?
One childhood memory I truly miss is making a birthday cake for Jesus and singing him Happy Birthday on Christmas Day. It was a clear reminder of the meaning of the day, a re-focusing of sorts that shifted my mind and heart away from the presents under the tree toward the presence of Jesus. Have you done that for your kids? Have you helped them prioritize God over “things”?
My elderly mom is staying with me this month and I watched as she hand-wrote stacks of Christmas cards to her friends. A lost art, it seems one that has been replaced by Facebook family photos and texts. She searched high and low for religious cards and really struggled to find them. She was insistent on doing so, though, because she values the fact that this is very much a Christian holiday and should be celebrated as such. She is frustrated because finding religious Christmas stamps has been even harder. “Where is the blessed Mother?” she asked. “Why can’t I find religious stamps anymore? It used to be so easy.”
And that’s when I realized how much things have changed in the last 50 years. God used to be everywhere. Now, we struggle to find Him.
The world may be pushing Him aside, but as Christians, we can’t let that happen. We may not be able to control the world, but we can certainly control our own households. I urge you to switch your focus from presents under the tree to His presence.