Holiday Processing

by - November 17, 2011

Does anyone one else find it unsettling that a day in which we celebrate community, shared sacrifice (perhaps the singular sacrifice of Native Americans), and express gratitude is followed by a day that is the pinnacle of American greed? I turned on the radio in the car today and was greeted by Christmas music. I can't deny that just hearing all the jingles and familiar jolly voices made me itch to go shopping a la the scenes in Serendipity where John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale reach for the same pair of gloves.

However, I do find it shameful that I am so inadvertently swept into this season of materialism when it is starkly in conflict with underlying message of Christmas, at least the Christmas that followers of Jesus celebrate. The practice of giving gifts goes back to the wise-men bringing gifts to the toddler Jesus as an act of adoration and worship, and somehow we've replaced worship of Jesus with trying to please the ones we love with items they may or may not want/need/ever use. It is somewhat about expressing love, but there's so many other factors tied into it. And then there's the RACE TO GET IT DONE. The gifts of the magi only pale in comparison to the ultimate sacrifice of Emanuel, God with us, entering time through the birth of a baby.

What is it that we are trying to express during the Christmas season? I know that as I've grown older, the magic of Christmas has faded, but the true joy of the season is something that should only grow in my heart over time. Instead of this growing joy, I feel disillusioned. I'm expecting my heart to be flooded by feelings of goodwill and charity while decking the halls, and eating figgy pudding while humming Baby it's cold outside! But after awhile, those favorite tunes are played for the 57th time and seriously if I hear Amy Grant's grown-up Christmas list one more time I'm going to hurt someone. I'm fairly certain I've posted on this topic on my previous blog, which tells me that I'm not making the changes needed.

This isn't a battle between myself and Corporate America or taking down Santa Claus. It's not a matter of only giving handmade gifts, it's not even a matter of serving in a soup kitchen or collecting gifts for a poor family (both good things). It's a matter of my heart and learning to quiet it, quiet the noises around, and reflect on the goodness and the sacrifice of God.

I've never really gotten into Advent at church. I've always thought it was a bit sensationalized with all the lights and candles and whatnot, but really, how can we sensationalize Jesus? No matter how much we speak good of him or make much of him, we can never truly express the extents of his awesomeness. I don't believe in emotionalizing the season to force a response to Jesus, and I think as a response to popular culture and the clear abuse of Jesus' name in politics and popular TV faith shows, I'm hypersensitive to fake worship and lip service. I fear being emotionally manipulated. More so, though I've been following Jesus since I was seven, I fear that my own heart just doesn't really get it. I fear that I'm too broken and cynical to find my way back. Christmas reminds me that I should be making a bigger deal of Jesus on a daily basis.

The fact is, Jesus came because we were an absolute mess, because we had no idea how to properly worship God. He came knowing that TV preachers with fake tans and florescent teeth would completely botch his message, He came knowing that eventually He would be an afterthought to the shopping and Santa portraits, and He came knowing "followers" like me would be missing Him while He was standing right in front of us.

So, pardon me if I spend a little time processing this season - that is if the boys are calm enough to give me an hour here and there to actually think while I write. Feel free to share your own processing too!

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