"I'm getting known around the office as a scrooge. And I'm preaching on joy on Sunday. Hmmmm. The reason they think I'm a scrooge is because I tend to say things like this around Christmas:
"Christmas isn't a holiday about family and friends." "Just remember, the wise men brought gifts to Jesus, not to themselves or each other." "The Christmas Tree and the Advent Wreath are symbols originally taken by Christians from the pagan world to communicate the gospel in an understandable language, and we need new cultural symbols to communicate through."
I guess I just always have this tension in my heart around Christmastime. It's not just the hustle-bustle that everyone complains about and does nothing about. It's not just the consumerism that everyone says is ruining the season while simultaneously jumping right in with both feet. It's not even Santa Claus, who I think can be redeemed through the true story of St. Nicholas and his heart for Jesus and the values of Jesus (like the poor.) I think what really gets me is that, no matter how much we say that Christmas is about Jesus, all of our words and actions point to Christmas really being about us. Even if it does involve doing nice things and giving things for our family and friends, Scripture tells me that the birth of Jesus is a celebration of God fulfilling his promise in Isaiah 11 to bring the Messiah and all that comes with him.
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD - and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious.
So, a formal apology to all those for whom I may have been a humbug. I think I just need some help seeing and celebrating Jesus when he is surrounded by pomp, circumstance, presents for me and you, candy canes, and Santa Claus. I just want to figure out how to truly worship Jesus at Christmas. This is more about me. I'm not trying to be judgmental of anyone else. I'm just saying that the way Christmas is currently configured, I have a hard to worshipping the incarnate God made flesh and lying in a manger. I just do. I have a hard time seeing Isaiah 11 during December. I just do. And I'm sure that's more about my own heart than about anyone elses. So, again, I apologize if I have come off as judgmental to anyone. Any advice would be welcomed.
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