I have to admit that I get quite worn down with the Christmas palaver. It seems we say it every year that “Christmas gets earlier and earlier”. I think that’s mainly because the shops start to stock Christmas items while I’m still wearing shorts! It gets to November and all the Christmas adverts are on the tv and homes across our towns are starting to drain the national grid with their colourful (and sometimes very gaudy) light displays. It can be a very stressful time as the list to buy presents reaches its second or third page- and what to buy people? And how much should we spend? And can we afford it?
A couple of weeks ago, we as a family went up to London and experienced ‘Winter Wonderland’ in Hyde Park for the first time. It’s an impressive set-up; huge; lots of noise, sights, sounds and smells, but sadly didn’t fill me with the Christmas spirit I was hoping for. It was free to get in, but everything once you walked in was hugely expensive. The myriad of eating places (with their fantastic smells) provoked gluttony. The children (who think we are actually made of money) badger us constantly to go on this or buy that and it just left me feeling a little bit sad.
Before I leave you too depressed, I want to remind you (and myself) that this is not what Christmas is all about. It’s not about ‘winter wonderland’, it’s not about spending money we don’t have. It’s not about lots of television shows and films, or rich food or even (dare I say) spending time with friends or family.
The thing is, we really do know what Christmas is all about; we just find ourselves getting constantly caught up in all the ‘stuff’. Christmas is about Jesus; His amazing descent from heavens throne room to a smelly dirty stable; His sacrifice, commitment; the grace and His very great love. “For God so loved the world that he gave..” (John 3:16)
God is the most amazing generous giver and He calls us to aspire to His generosity.
When we think about it, Christmas is a time when we celebrate Jesus’ birthday and birthdays usually mean gifts to the birthday person. However, at this birthday everyone else gets a present except the one whose birthday it is. We of course cannot give Him a physical gift, but how about getting a little creative?
I think a nice little gift would be the sacrifice of some of our time. How about setting aside 20 minutes or so each day to pray and meditate on His word? He’d like that. Or what about singing? Christmas is a time of singing and Jesus loves it when we sing our worship to Him. It only needs to be an audience of one, nobody else needs to hear (in case you’re worried about your voice!). Another idea of a gift would be to bless His brothers and sisters, our church family. That would be like giving to Him in His eyes. So also we could provide for the poor. They are always on His heart and we have been called to be Jesus’ hands and feet. Where He is not physically present He has called us to stand in His place.
I’m sure we could be very creative with ideas about what to give Him. And as we give, we will find it impossible to out-give Him because He will ensure we receive His peace in our hearts which far outweighs all the other ‘stuff’ this Christmas.