My Thoughts During Christmas
1. As I sit in the library of my alma mater today, with snow covering the ground, I have reflected on many fond memories of my college days. I was pretty young and relatively immature then (and not much has changed since then, except i'm gettting older!), I am grateful to God for the way He has guided my life. Not everything has turned out at I would have planned, but He has made things work out. I've got so many friends still left in my college town. I even went to my old church last night to watch their Christmas play. It was a blessing to see old friends.
2. I'm often times caught off guard when I really realize that God is never caught off guard; He is never surprised by the events of our lives. Even when I don't know what to do, or when to do what I don't know what to do, I am trusting that God is working things out for my good. If anything, the events of my life in the last few months have been a test case in trusting God in the big and small things (Matthew 7.11 comes to mind at this point).
3. As I get older, the more frustrated I am with the commercialization of Christmas. Christians make such a fuss about "keeping Christ in Christmas" (in response to stores that announce "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas") but they fail to see their own inconsistencies regarding the holiday. I suspect I have a more radical view than others (which I am afforded due to my lack of wife or kids), but I see no need for Santa Clause or buying presents. I can't imagine how it is 'Christ-honoring' to spend hundreds of dollars each Christmas buying presents for family and friends. I'm not opposed to giving gifts, per se. However, I think Christmas has become too much about giving to ourselves and not enough about giving to others. Don't get me wrong. I think it's fine to buy a present or two, but I've changed my outlook on things recently. I've bought a few presents for my family, but told them not to buy me anything. I'm tired of the 'expense' of Christmas. The "joy" of shopping is a hoax and it seems that there is too much 'extra-curricular" ties to celebrating the Incarnation.
4. More and more I'm grateful for an obedient local church that seeks to minister to the community at large instead of being satisfied with hearing decent/good preaching and demanding that the pastor come and visit the sick and hospitalized. I pray that more chuches in my convention wake up to the fact that the world is moving past us and, for the most part, doesn't care about what we do unless we are actively engaging them outside of our own buildings.
5. Finally, I hope that this year I will have a greater understanding of Christmas. It has to be the most miraculous event in all of history. How did the Divine add mortality to Himself? How did the incorporeal take on a body? Why do I sometimes fuss when I am treated with guile when the King submitted to being born in a manger and sleeping in a trough? Will I remember that I was not worthy to receive the benefits of His Incarnation and then be motivated to share His story with others who are equally unworthy?
I'd like to hear your thoughts on Christmas. What are you thankful for? Do you agree with my assessment on Christmas?
May the King reign supreme in your heart and, as a result, cause you to celebrate His birth with more joy and thanksgiving than ever before. "For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2.11)
posted by Jason Sampler at 9:35 AM