Despite the fact that Lowe’s® has been selling artificial Christmas Trees since October and Sirius/XM© radio has been playing holiday music since November 2nd, today is the unofficial start of the holiday season. If retailers are right, thousands of people will spend millions of dollars today (Black Friday), tomorrow (small business Saturday) and Monday (cyber Monday); consumers who take part in these commercial activities will benefit from ‘door-buster deals’, cyber sales and discounts on ‘one-day bundles’. Seemingly overnight the mall will have been transformed to a winter wonderland, town squares will be hosting tree-lighting events and red kettles will suddenly appear on street corners. All around us we see that Christmas is coming.
As we all enter this four week push to get it all done – yes, Christmas is four weeks from today – allow me to encourage you to take some time for spiritual reflection. I encourage you to consider the indescribable gift as you purchase and wrap your gifts. I encourage you to consider the incredible depths God took to restore His relationship with you as you relate to those you love. I encourage you to consider the great light over Bethlehem and the songs of the angels as you see the tree lights twinkle and the dulcet tones of your favorite Christmas carols.
“In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.” Jeremiah 33:16
What would happen if we no longer made Christmas about the presents and decorations and made it about the promises that give those presents and decorations their meaning? Would our time in line or online to procure the perfect present be more pleasant because we are reminded that God loves us and gave us His most precious possession: Jesus, our Savior? Would our time in traffic travelling over the river and through the woods be more tender to us because we know how far Christ travelled to be with us? Would the ubiquitous songs of the season be sweeter because we are struck by the message of the 1st Christmas carol, sung to poor shepherds in fields as they lay?
We can easily get bogged down in the details of our Christmas schedule and be robbed of our Christmas joy – unless we remember the reason we rejoice in the first place. As the days grow darker and the nights grow colder, it is good to know that a great light has appeared. As our world is gripped by violence and terror, it is good to know that the Prince of Peace has come. Even if we are alone, it is good to know that He has come so that we will never be abandoned or forsaken. It is good to know that a Savior has been born: he is Christ the Lord.
So, if you are reading this before or after (or maybe even in the midst of) your bargain hunting adventure, I hope that you will have found all your heart desires. Although I think Dr. Seuss may have said it best:
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
Happy start to your holiday season!