Truthfully, I have always found the slogan, “Jesus is the reason for the season” a bit hokey. Yes, I totally agree with the message but I thought the phrase was rather trite and glib — until this week.
I was talking to a mom about the subject of Christmas falling on a Sunday this year.
“Too bad you have to work Christmas Day,” she said sympathetically.
“No, I love being at church on Christmas morning,” I said. “I wish Amberlea had a Christmas Day tradition.”
The mom continued, “We used to go to a church that had a Christmas Day service. My kids hated it. I didn’t mind, but they hated it, and they are already making noise about coming this year, so I doubt we’ll be here.”
“Why do they “hate” it?” I asked. Hate seemed like a pretty strong word, so I was curious.
She said, “They hated being pulled away from their new toys to go to church. Oh they just hate it. It’s not worth the hassle.”
As a parent, I totally understand. We want our kids to have the perfect Christmas. Yet I was a bit shocked and honestly my heart broke a little when I heard her say that.
This conversation happened days ago and I still can’t seem to shake it. For days I have been thinking of all the things I could have said to her, like “Jesus is the reason for the season!”
It is so easy to get caught up in the trappings of Christmas — so many things to do, so many places to be and so many people to see. In the four weeks leading to Christmas there is a palpable frenzy. If you don’t know what I mean just head to the mall. The reality is that if we are not intentional about focusing time on the real reason we celebrate Christmas then it just won’t happen and we can easily miss the amazing spiritual beauty of this season.
This year Christmas Day falls on a Sunday. I know many will come to church because it is Sunday and, “That’s what we do. We go to church on Sunday”.
Others will come to church because it is Christmas.
Some families will be so fully occupied with opening presents and playing with new toys that leaving the house may seem like an impossibility. I get that.
But beloveds, if we focus on the gifts to the exclusion of focusing on the Giver, we’re missing out. Our children will be missing out too!
In the next 10 days before Christmas, I encourage you to spend some time observing and meditating on the true meaning of Christmas, and give serious consideration about how you can share it with others.
Perhaps you might do an Advent activity with your children each day, until Christmas.
Perhaps your family will have a special devotional time around the advent wreath.
Perhaps you will consider joining us at Amberlea for the various services we offer.
Perhaps you will sit quietly and read Luke Chapter 2. As you do, picture Mary wrapping baby Jesus up. Her hands carefully folding each corner of cloth, like a precious gift. A gift that was given to you.
My prayer for you and me is that this Christmas, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of creating a perfect Christmas for our families, we not neglect to unwrap the most important gift of all, the gift of Immanuel, God with us.
Think about it. Pray about it. Plan for it. Celebrate Christmas as it was meant to be.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:2 ESV)
Join us tonight (Thursday) for Messy Church or later for a Carol Sing. Then on Sunday, be sure to join us for a very special intergenerational service.