The feeling hit the day after Thanksgiving—that rush of Christmas urgency. I quickly formulated the to-do list in my head: put the decorations up, order the Christmas cards, start buying presents. The deadline of December 25 waits for no man, after all. It all must be done, and it all must be perfect. How else will I be able to enjoy the Christmas season?
Yes, perhaps I am exaggerating a little bit for dramatic effect. Still, how easy it is to be overrun by the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Christmas was already stressful, and then social media came along. Now, the pressure is even greater to have the cutest matching Christmas PJs, perfectly wrapped gifts, an immaculately decorated home, and so on. This is what Christmas is all about, right?
Of course, the answer is no. For believers, Jesus is the reason for the season. Because of His coming to earth, and His subsequent death and resurrection, we were granted the ultimate gift of eternal life! Yes, we may give lip service to these truths, but we do truly embody this belief throughout our celebrations? Do we keep the birth of Christ at the forefront, or is He merely a convenient afterthought?
Granted, many of us have the desire to focus on Christ more in the Christmas season, but are unsure of how to do so. There are many ways this can be achieved. First and foremost, pray. Ask God to shift the focus of your heart this Christmas from the secular to the sacred. Pray that Jesus would be the source of your joy more so than the presents, the food, or the family gatherings.
Second, spend time in December meditating on the accounts of Jesus’ birth in the Gospels. Journal about your reflections. Another useful thing to do is meditate upon the text of theologically rich Christmas hymns such as Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus; It Came upon the Midnight Clear; O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, etc. Songs like these often help us to frame the birth of Christ within the larger Biblical and theological context.
Finally, I would like to recommend to you our upcoming Advent Firelight series, which will be released December 7. Going through the series with your family will serve as a springboard for you and your loved ones to have deep discussions on the meaning of Christ’s birth. I know of no better tool to keep your family focused on Jesus this December. (And it’s free!)
In closing, let me make clear that there is nothing wrong with matching Christmas PJs, beautiful Christmas trees, or searching for the perfect gifts for your loved ones. The problem only comes in once we allow these things to overshadow the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of baby Jesus. He and He alone is the reason we celebrate.