Keeping Christ in Christmas

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My latest for the Longview News-Journal

Every year it feels like the same routine: trees, lights, wreaths, presents, cards, pictures, and the never-ending mad rush to Christmas Day.  Don’t get me wrong I love Christmas; I love getting together with family and friends, exchanging gifts and driving through Mini Santa Land. I love to see the sense of wonder my children have this time of year. I love to rehear the story of the birth of Jesus. Christmas is a beautiful holy time and I think that is why people are so passionate about how it is celebrated.

This year I have noticed a lot of people wearing “Merry CHRISTmas” shirts (the word Christ is generally more prominent than the rest of the word). The idea here is that we are to remember that Jesus the Christ is the real reason for the holiday.  Inevitably the overwhelming presence of God’s love and the hope that is found in a newborn baby in a manger means something more than lights and trees, right? Why is it at the end of the “holiday season” many Christians are worn out and have missed the life-changing, life-giving presence of the holy season of Advent and Christmas?

How do we how do we keep Christ in Christmas? And furthermore, how do we continue this idea all year long? Doesn’t the coming of Christ in our midst mean more than just a single day?  Is simply remembering enough? 

We keep Christ in Christmas by thinking of serving outside the month of December. It is easy and often expected to serve around the holidays, but the needs of our community continue long after the tree and the lights are taken down.

We keep Christ in Christmas by remembering that the heart of the gospel that Jesus brings is love. This love must be shown to all people. Christians believe that God’s love is freely given to all. This might mean that we reconsider who are neighbor might be and look for new opportunities to share the love of God. 

We keep Christ in Christmas by seeing the vulnerable in our community and supporting missional and community initiatives to help alleviate people’s hurting and suffering. 

We keep Christ in Christmas by remembering that the world if a beautiful gift of God and strive to care and manage its resources properly. 

These and many more ways are how we keep Christ in Christmas. If you can help, serve, give, love, and share with others in 2020, then please do. If you are already doing these things, then find ways to encourage others to join you in the cause of sharing God’s love and Christ’s mercy to all people.

The very first Christmas over 2000 years ago changed the world as we know it. Why can’t Christmas in 2019 and beyond continue to change the world?

Howard Thurman, an African American theologian, educator, and civil rights leader wrote a poem entitled “The Work of Christmas” which shapes the way we can enter the Christmas story this year.

When the song of the angels is stilled,

when the star in the sky is gone,

when the kings and princes are home,

when the shepherds are back with their flocks,

the work of Christmas begins:

to find the lost, to heal the broken,

to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner,

to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among the people,

to make music in the heart.

 

May this help us as we strive to keep Christ in Christmas.

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