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Saturday, December 15, 2007

You know you are a writer when...

you compose written thoughts in response to what you read in the newspaper, or while making cookies, or in the shower...It's just what I do in my head. Sadly, most of the time, inspiration strikes when I am otherwise occupied, and since I cannot remember 5 minutes ago, let alone some brilliant, scintillating musing, you guys get this dribble instead :-).
While making Christmas cookies tonight I had a whole thing composed about Christmas. Or actually, the debates that seem to go hand in hand with Christmas. Specifically brought about by the realization that my entire upbringing, we went to candlelight service Christmas Eve, but come Christmas morning, there was no CHRIST to be seen. It was all about Santa, and presents, and what we got. There was no reading of the gospel, no singing Happy Birthday to Jesus, no cake, just me, me, me.
That is clearly not what I desire for my children, but figuring out what to do to keep the focus where I desire it to be is harder than figuring out what I DON'T want to do. Years ago we went to just 3 gifts for the kids, just like the three Jesus was given. But Santa does their stockings (although I think the older 3 all suspect the truth, and I'll frankly be quite happy when they embrace it). Is that Santa thing bad? Well, in some of my friend's houses it is. And I get the whole, "why lie to my kids and create an atmosphere of distrust?" and "why tell them strangers are bad, but then ask them to be comfortable with one breaking into your house once a year?" and "Why focus on one day that 'Santa" is watching for, when God watches everyday, and demands our best behavior everyday." I "get" all that and more, but that is just not a stumbling block God has exposed to us and asked us to get rid of.
And then there is a whole group of people who think you should not celebrate Christmas at all. After all, and some of these truths may be hard if you have never been exposed to them, celebrating Christmas is not Biblical. In fact, the Bible does not even give us the date Christ was born, which surely God would have provided if such a celebration was commanded. The date of December 25th most likely has far more foundation in pagan customs than in the historical truth of Christ's birth. From what people far wiser than I know of sheep and shepherds, it's unlikely they were out in the hills in the middle of winter, which supports the idea that December 25th is way off. And Jesus was not likely to have been placed in the type of "manger" we all grew up picturing at all. So, extremists feel, why teach these untruths? What makes them any less harmful than "Santa", and why celebrate a holiday that God did not command us to and let fall by the wayside those that He did give His people? And I "get" all that too. And it is the "getting" it that causes much thought when one then tries to decide what to teach the children God has entrusted to you to train up in the knowledge and love of Him.
So as I debated all this while brushing glaze on my cookies, God brought to mind 2 passages of scripture. The first was "May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer." What are the meditations of my heart this time of year? Am I meditating on to-do lists? A cluttered house? All the places to go? People to see? Gifts to buy? Or, am I meditating on CHRISTmas? The celebration of the birth of my Savior and my Lord. Am I urgently seeking to share with my children WHY this day is so important. Not the actual, physical day of December 25th, but the fact that Easter may represent the fullness of God's plan for our salvation coming to a close, but on that special, Holy night in Bethlehem, the plan of the ages was begun in the form of God in the flesh as a helpless baby whose birth was likely in an animal stall, and whose bed was an elevated shelf used for storing feed. Do I share with them how thought-down-upon shepherds were in that time, but how God chose the lowest of the low as the messengers to the world of the best news mankind had ever received? And that throughout history He has chosen ordinary people, frequently those others would not give a second glance to, to carry out some of the most extraordinary parts of His plan? People like David, Ruth, Paul, Mary. People like you and me. People like my children. Do I meditate on the hope that Christmas gave over 2000 years ago, and the promise it still offers today? If I do those things, if I teach them to think on the things that are true, good, right, lovely, just, honest...things that have virtue, things worthy of praise, then I will have achieved my goals. Then we will truly be celebrating Christmas.
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Clunn Family said...

Great post! I was going to comment at length but find it might be better just to blog it...Lol
More later! Blessings to you!

aftgog said...

Deep thoughts by Jack er OBM LOL (sat. nite live fan?)
I like what y'er saying, and I think that it only matters that we don't make tradition out of something possibly sacred. Right? If we totally make it about presents, or lights, or the tree, then we have a problem. All that stuff is just plain fun. We are truly free in Christ. Do what you want. Reflect on Christ. Enjoy. Love is the final litmus test.