Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's Beginning to Look...

I just had an interesting conversation with a friend.  Where we live, in the northeastern United States, Christmas looks like snow, Santa Clause in a red coat and hat and boots, decorations with snowman themes, and "icicle" lights hanging from houses (I guess insulation has eliminated most "legitimate" icicles these days).  We were wondering what Christmas looks like in other parts of the world - especially places where it is warm right now, or even summertime!  I imagine snowmen are not in such a demand in those areas.

A couple of days ago, our family took a ride after dark to see the Christmas lights.  People have some really elaborate displays, even in our little town.  As we were looking at the Grinch popping out of a chimney with a Santa hat on, and a carousel that actually went around, I began to wonder what Jesus thought about his birthday celebration.  Here we all are, focusing on decorating our houses, picking out presents, and baking cookies.  We go to concerts, go to parties, and go to the mall.  We watch movies about Santa Clause, snowmen, and Grinches (!)  It becomes a frenzied whirlwind of activity, all in the name of...What?

I had a wonderful birthday, this year.  My family took me out to eat, and we went shopping.  My husband even stayed with the kids in the children's section of Barnes and Noble while I browsed the whole store by myself.  This has been unheard of in the past almost eight years!  Miraculously, the children were angels all day.  Basically, it was a day all for me!  My family did everything they could to give me a nice day on my birthday.

Now, back to Jesus.  What is He doing on His birthday?  Okay, I know that we are not sure exactly what day his birthday is, and it may not have been this time of year at all, but this is the day we have chosen to celebrate it.  So, are we spending this season doing the things that Jesus most enjoys?  Let's see.

  • Decorating the house - Jesus didn't have a house.  He was born in a stable, and as an adult he went from town to town.  "And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." Matthew 8:20  So, I bet he is not too concerned about painted nutcrackers and icicle lights.
  • Buying presents - okay, why do we give each other presents?  It's not our birthdays.  Maybe because we can't give Jesus presents, since he's not here?  Or is he?  "Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee a hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in, or naked, and clothed thee?  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?  And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:37 - 40.  How much of our shopping is focusing on the hungry and sick, and how much focuses on people who already have everything they need?  Face it.  Some of us are extremely hard to buy presents for, because we already have everything!
  • Baking cookies - it's hard to say what Jesus thinks about cookies, but I think he would like to see some of them go to the aforementioned hungry!
  • Entertainment - Jesus celebrated holidays, and he attended weddings and dinner parties.  He enjoyed spending time with his friends.  But, let's remember - we are supposed to be celebrating JESUS' birthday - we have to remember to invite him to the party!
  • Activity - "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.  Amen." Matthew 28: 18 - 20  This is the activity Jesus expects of us.  So, while we are getting ready for our Christmas celebration in one week, let's try to remember who's birthday this is, and give him a birthday celebration that will please him.

Just so you know, I am as guilty of all the hoopla as everyone else.  I am stressing over getting the presents wrapped and the house cleaned and the cards sent out.  This is a thought in progress sort of thing, and I'm not very good about following my own advice, but I know I at least have a start.  I hope this helps you think about it, too.  Merry Christmas!

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