Saturday, December 24, 2011

How Jesus Ruined My Christmas

ru-in [roo-in] 

a fallen, wrecked, or decayed condition

the downfall or decay of anything

to devastate

to injure irretrievably

to fall to pieces

it implies irrevocable and often widespread damage...

6 For to us a child is born, 
   to us a son is given; 
and the government shall be upon his shoulder, 
   and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, 
   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
{Isaiah 9:6}

Jesus ruined my Christmas.

I have been somewhat melancholy during this particular Christmas season. 
Unable to get into the "Christmas spirit." 
Traditions that once brought me great joy, now left me feeling empty and unsatisfied.
All month long I've gone about my daily routines with this sort of gnawing sensation deep within me that I simply could not shake. 

I so desperately wanted to make this Christmas about Jesus. 

Having worked in retail {both secular and Christian} for 10 years or so, I have seen first hand what can happen to those who lose sight of why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. From Black Friday to Christmas Eve, I've seen the true ugliness of humanity. Men and women storm into shops and retail establishments in mass numbers, each one of them demanding discount upon discount; then screaming, cussing, or even threatening physical violence when the poor associate trying to help them{who is just trying to earn a paycheck by the way} cannot meet their demands. I've seen people accuse retail associates of "destroying" their Christmas because the product that they came in to purchase is no longer available. I've seen customers take advantage of the long lines at the register to shoplift and short-change associates. I've seen respectable men and women throw grown up temper tantrums when managers cannot bend company policies and procedures in order to meet their demands. 

Having also worked in a church, I have seen people in heated debates over whether or not to celebrate the life of St. Nicholas in their households. 
Or which seasonal phrase brings Jesus honor:
"Merry CHRISTmas"
"Happy Holidays"
I've seen church goers rant and rave over how Christmas Eve services are planned and executed.
Or leave the church all together because the traditional Christmas cantata has been canceled. 
I've seen more pride, anger, jealousy, rage, selfishness, and malicious behavior out of 
Christ followers during the month of December than any atheist or pagan I know.

Once I left the world of retail, and resigned as a member of our church staff, 
I vowed that I would never treat people in that manner.
That I would be different. 
I vowed that I would treat others with utmost respect, kindness, and patience during the holiday season. That I would not get caught up in the materialism of the season and instead, extend the love of Jesus by clothing the poor and feeding the hungry. That I would make it a point to smile everywhere I went. Or bake cookies and bring them to those who would not be able to celebrate Christmas with their families this year.
 I thought that I was spreading Christmas cheer everywhere I went. 
That I was celebrating Christmas in a way that honored Jesus. 

But I was wrong. 
Very wrong.

Jesus ruined my Christmas.

You see, I still didn't get it. 

Then late last night/early this morning He spoke to me. 
He reminded me of this:

Christmas isn't about gifts. 
You cannot buy it at the store.
You cannot wrap it and put it under the tree.
It isn't about Christmas trees or lights or decorations.
Christmas isn't about being kind and compassionate to one another.
It isn't about feeding the poor or clothing the homeless.
It isn't about spending extra time with your family.
It isn't reading about His birth in Luke 2.
Or even experiencing the awe and wonder...
...the beauty and majesty...
...of the manager. 

It's about a person.
One person in particular.

Christmas is a celebration of the fact that 
...unconditional, unimaginable, unexplainable...
came down and dwelt among us.
Christmas is all about enjoying the very Presence of God.
God With Us.
And He wants us to experience the wonder and hope of Christmas
not just once a year- but every single day of the year.

So it really doesn't matter 
whether or not we choose to buy our loved ones gifts.
Or put up a Christmas tree.
Or decorate our houses with lights.
Or travel about the neighborhoods singing Christmas carols.
Or baking Christmas cookies.
Or feeding the hungry and clothing the homeless.
None of those things 
{and they are good things. very good things.}
matter at all if we are too busy to take the time to be still and enjoy the very Presence of God.

You can do all of those things and still miss Christmas... 
just like I did.
You can do all of those things,
and experience the very hope and joy of Christmas.
Because you understood what Christmas was all about.
You took the time to bask in the Presence of the Most High.

That is what He wants. 
That is what brings Him glory.
Your time.
Your heart.

So please, don't spend this season arguing with each other 
over whether or not to wish someone 
"Merry Christmas" 
"Happy Holidays."
 Or angrily write "Merry CHRISTmas" on everything you can get your hands on
because "Jesus is the Reason for the Season."
Or debate over whether or not your children should celebrate Santa Claus.

Yes, I think Jesus asks each of us to "celebrate" His birth differently.
But what He has called one family to do does not mean that He has universally called all Christians to do the same. 
I think if we get too caught up in all of that we will miss it.

We will miss His Spirit calling us...
...inviting us...
...alluring us...
to simply enjoy Him.

 Jesus ruined my Christmas because I had forgotten what really mattered-
to take the time to seek His face.
To sit at His feet.
To bask in His glory.
To enjoy Him.

And I am so very glad He did.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love reading your comments! They brighten my day!