O, Holy Night

Christmas in America (if not world over) is today something it should never have become.  As with many unintended consequences, small changes here and there morphed the season of sanctified remembrance into something scarcely recognizable from former days.  Sometimes, the incremental changes were not that small, either.  Variances in festivities and worship have occurred on several fronts and are not all negative in nature.  It would be a mistake to say either that things should always remain the same or must necessarily change to accommodate the modern climate.  That aside, Christmastime has become hectic and stressful at its best- hopeless and depressing at its worst.

I don’t want to steal anyone’s Christmas here, and I’m not trying to be cynical.  There are many for whom the true meaning of the season is a living reality.  However, I am saying that the current form of Christmas makes it difficult even for those who want to enjoy the truth of God and goodness to experience their hope.  I know very few people for whom Christmas is not absolutely exhausting.  Most of them are preschoolers.  Of course, this is a microcosm of our society in general, and, perhaps, unavoidable.  That’s a shame.  It seems nearly impossible to dial back, even in minor ways, when the world, family and friends have expectations more in tune with the age than the Almighty.

Even those who decry commercialism enjoy it at Christmas.  The celebrations of my youth or in the first years of my marriage were extremely simple in comparison to my current playlist.  I didn’t plan it this way.  As if by a riptide of the sea, I was carried to the depths against my will.  Soon, I lost sight of the shore, and firm footing could not be found.  It’s hard to act in nonconformity and any lessening in Christmas cash or credit is likely to label you a Scrooge.  Those of a certain age may add “McDuck,” but they are only being nice.  Gift-giving is a wonderful thing and appropriate at Christmas, but our plans got out of hand, and everyone really agrees with this assessment.

If consumerism has had negative effects on Christmas, so have protestations from certain of the faithful.  Simplification does not eradicate celebration, but there are voices protesting recognition of Jesus’ Advent at all.  A few of these tout the well-known fact that December is a misplacement of the probably time of the Savior’s birth as evidence that the time period should have no connection to the life of our Lord.  In addition, some cite secular contributions and church history as so misappropriating of the Holy Event that to remember the Redeemer in the season is unbecoming.  It is difficult to overcome ingrained opinions, but to me Jesus is the reason for the season.

As a child, my father was taught that the animals went to their knees at midnight on Christmas Eve.  Things are what we make of them, and, if we want to be carried along in revelry at Christmas, that is our choice.  It is also our choice to reflect on God’s plan of salvation through His Son if we are so inclined.  I am so inclined, and I hope to sanctify Christmas in my heart all my days.  It matters little to me if the quarterly projections are met or even what was determined at a church council that no one remembers.  For something to be holy, it must be separate and distinct from other things.  Such is a believer’s relationship to God and His Son.  This year, I will seek time and place to fall on my knees.   

Sterl

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