If you've read any of my posts for the past couple of weeks you might sense a theme about me not liking Christmas. Before you get all in a huff (because I know that some of you are very big "huff-get-inners"), note that I didn't say I hate Christmas, because I don't. I love Christmas. I sometimes hate the Christmas season...
December is always a hectic month for a church. There are roughly 3400 different things going on. If you ask any pastor what it's like in December you'll most likely get a sigh or a shudder. A lot of work goes into the Christmas season. It is mentally draining for almost every pastor.
Then there is the whole buying presents thing. That's a lot of pressure. I mean have you ever bought stuff for a woman? Ladies have it easy. All you have to do is buy a guy food, a video game, or a tool. Pick one. We're happy with each of them. Buying for a woman is much harder. I once bought a complete outfit for my wife (then girlfriend) for Christmas. Dress, shoes, jewelry. Every single piece of it went back. I have not bought her clothes since. There's a lot of pressure in getting just the right gift. Putting enough thought into it. Making sure she doesn't already own it. Making sure that it doesn't somehow insult her. (hello cooking/cleaning/x-large items)....I mean it seriously seemed like a good idea. Just a lot more stress in December.
Then there is visiting with family. Don't get me wrong, I love visiting my family. In fact one of the best parts of November-December is that I get to see my family more than usual which is awesome. But you then have to add packing and traveling. More time and more stress (again worth it to see my family!).
Don't forget about traffic everywhere! Since people are out of work and school they are out and about which means that there is traffic. It doesn't matter if you are in your car, at the mall, or even going to get a bite to eat. People are out and about and it adds waiting time and noise to everywhere you go.
That's where it bugs me the most. Noise. Noise everywhere. Distractions. Traffic. Parties. Services. Traveling.
It's all noise.
And all of that noise blocks out one thing. Jesus.
Isn't it ironic that the reason that we do all of this extra stuff in December is blocked out by the stuff that we are doing?
Some people say that Santa Claus takes Christ away from Christmas. I'd challenge that notion. I think that Christmas itself has started to take Christ away.
With everything that goes on in the month of December, I hear people say this: "I can't believe it's Christmas Eve already!" "I feel like I've been running non-stop." "I'm exhausted." "I can't wait for Christmas to be over." I've heard all of those, multiple times.
Is this what God wants of us? To work so hard at shopping, and decorating, and socializing that we are exhausted when it comes time to celebrate the birth of our Savior?
I mean if I were God (and let's all thank God that I'm not!), I would have to respond, "Wow, I'm so sorry that the birth of my son, who ultimately died for you, is an inconvenience to you." I'd be a sarcastic God (again, we're glad that I'm just Jon).
I write all this because every year I get to Christmas Eve and realize that I haven't really given much thought to Christ. So I take a little time and get by myself and sit and think through the fact that God came to Earth as a baby just to save a sinner like me. It's really a humbling thought if you think about it. But it re-centers me on what this celebration is all about. It's about God stooping down to rescue his children.
It's about Peace. Joy. Love. Hope.
Do yourself a favor this week. Take some time to be by yourself and think through Christmas. It might be the best thing you do all year.
Merry Christmas, everyone.