I have had more time this year to reflect on the Christmas season. One reason is because I don’t have InterVarsity end of the quarter stuff to do like I have for the past 6 years and two, because my church has been going through an advent series on Sundays. First I will start with my frustrations with the season. Many Christians including myself feel very conflicted during this season with the hype and extravagance of presents and spending. Some words or phrases that come to mind when I think of popular culture’s image of this season are: money, presents, angry shoppers, last minute deals, the economy, Christmas bonuses, Santa, sweets. The nativity scene is present but only as another decoration equal to Santa. I often feel overwhelmed with the consumerism of the season and pressure to spend a lot of money. I could go on about how burdensome I feel during this time, but this year I stopped to consider why our culture responds to Christmas in this way. There are a lot of negative reasons why but I would like to consider some positive reasons why our culture responds to Christmas with such elaborate extravagance. When it comes down to it I think we do really honor the tradition of celebration. We want to celebrate the end of a year and all the work that we have done, be able to take a break from it and party. We want to celebrate our families. We want to give them gifts to show how much we love them. Even the idea of Santa, we want kids to celebrate how they have been good throughout the year. And I think that this tradition of celebrating and wanting to show care for our families is a good thing. We are not a culture that is good at celebrating throughout the year like African or Latino cultures. So I am glad that we still have this season where people want to do that. Many Christians feel like our culture has lost all sense of meaning of Christmas but I disagree. Even if they are celebrating something different from what Christmas was originally intended for, to have that tradition rooted in our culture is not all bad. I believe that God can still redeem this season. As much as this season is a time of family, for many it is a time of loneliness. It can be a time where people see that they so desperately need something bigger than themselves to help them. As people find a need to Jesus in their life, I hope that our culture will translate that extravagance onto honoring Jesus. In my bitterness in the materialism I have lost the sense of celebration for this season. I do not prepare, anticipate, and celebrate the birth of Jesus the way that our culture celebrates “Christmas.” I think that I should come into the season with the same kind of passion and energy. Of course the actions of how I celebrate should look different but I think that reckless devoted attitude can be the same.
I am also thankful that our culture still has traditional “Jesus” Christmas songs on the radio and playing in malls. What other time of year do we get the message of Jesus pumped in radios and malls. This year I have noticed the richness in the words of these Christmas hymns that have really stuck with me. Here are some lines that caught my attention this year.
“God and sinners reconciled. Joyful all ye nations rise. Join the triumph of the skies.” This is a huge reconciliation that is happening. People now have direct access to God. We should be celebrating like when slaves were emancipated, only a lot more!
“Hail the incarnate Diety. Please as men with men to dwell”. God made himself human to come and live with us. To understand us, relate to us, to experience everything we experienced.
“Long lay the world, in sin and error pinning. Till he appeared and the spirit felt its worth. The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.” I feel like this just so describes our culture. We are caught in sin and pinning for something better. We are a weary world that needs to rejoice that we have a God that can rescue us from all the crap we are in.
“Truly He taught us to love one another, His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother. And in his name all oppression shall cease.” Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we. What a message of justice. What encouragement is this to people in the city or anyone in oppression.
“Go tell it on the mountain. Over the hills and everywhere. Go tell it on the mountain. That Jesus Christ is born. “ I need to do this. I do not shout and declare that Jesus has been born. I need to go and tell it everywhere.
Another thing that has helped me connect with Jesus’ birth during this season is preparing for the birth of my nephew. I’m not going to lie, I am more excited about him coming into the world than Christmas this year. I am feeling the anticipation, hope, and excitement building. And I know when my nephew is born there will be rejoicing and celebration. He will finally be here and we will get to see and hold him and take him home. I can connect with the birth of Jesus that everyone was waiting for in anticipation. I feel like I can also connect more with how loved and adored this baby was. People came and worshipped him and brought him gifts, and he did nothing yet. Of course my nephew is far from Jesus but we love him so much alright and have all these gifts for him and he hasn’t done anything. He’s just sitting in my sister’s stomach, and upside down at that. But we absolutely love this kid who we have never met. It just teaches me how God loves us just because we are his. There is nothing that we have done or haven’t done that makes him love us. He loves us like I love my nephew, just because we are his.
I’m so excited to be Auntie Megan!!