Greetings Grace Family!
“I can’t believe that this year is coming to its end” is a common phrase spoken just about every year as Thanksgiving ends and we are inundated with endless promotions and opportunities to spend our hard earned money on all things Christmas. It is not an unwarranted lament as the commercialization of Christmas (and every other holiday!) has become truly overwhelming. I cannot really blame retailers for their relentlessness, after all we do spend billions on the Christmas holiday. Why would anyone expect to see and hear an endless string of commercials about the true meaning of Christmas? Where is the profit in that?
From a commercial perspective there isn’t much to gain from the birth of the Savior of the world. It is and always has been a gift meant to be received by all, a priceless gift given to provide something none of us can afford; our eternal salvation. The price will eventually be paid by the child born in Bethlehem on a cross in Jerusalem. I suppose one could say that the giving and receiving of a gift is what’s at the heart of Christmas and is what has led to the dreaded commercialization, but it doesn’t have to take away our joy or the sense of gratitude that we have all received from our Creator.
As has become my custom, the end of the year newsletter article is my public service announcement on how to combat the ever-present secularization of one our most cherished holidays. By now most of us have already begun thinking about all things we need to do to get to Christmas day. There are the presents to buy, the decorations to get out, the Christmas cards to mail, the parties to attend and/or plan for, travel planning, and more! Just typing that last sentence has left me feeling overwhelmed…
I believe the season of Advent provides us with a remedy for the pressures and responsibilities that accompany Christmas. Each of the four Sundays in Advent have a theme to help remind us what Christmas is all about. We have hope, peace, love and joy to accompany us on the journey to Bethlehem. Focusing on these themes is, I believe, a great way to help us focus on what really matters. Attending worship during the busiest of months is a good starting point as I will focus on those four themes on their given Sundays. But, what about the other six days of the week?
I’m glad you asked! What if you spent a little time each day focusing on the theme of each week of Advent? Read some scripture or a devotional related to hope, peace, love or joy? What if you spent a little time in prayer thanking God for the hope, peace love and joy He provides? Perhaps even meditating or reflecting on how those four themes are present in your life every day during Advent. How might 28 days of intentional time impact your feelings about Christmas? You’ll never know if you don’t try.
Christmas is truly one of our greatest gifts and it is a holiday that should be filled with joy and the corny Christmas spirit. If it isn’t or hasn’t been that for you, that is what is truly lamentable. Are you feeling the weight and burden of all commercialization of this most sacred of holidays? It doesn’t have to be that way my siblings. Join us for worship during the four Sundays of Advent (which includes Christmas Eve morning) and be intentional in seeking, like the shepherds, that Babe in a manger during the season of Advent. We have already received the greatest gift ever, so you’ve got nothing to lose.
Yours in Christ,