Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Three Simple Steps to a Merrier Christmas

Christmas is getting crazier each year.  This year they started with the decorations and music the day after Halloween in some stores!  With the tough economic times stores are doing all they can to get you to uphold the tradition and buy, buy, buy.  If it seems like Christmas is becoming too commercialized and losing it's focus allow me to make a couple of suggestions to help us get back on track (and, no, watching It's A Wonderful Life isn't one of them).


1) Read the Christmas story again.  And not just the first section of Luke 2 that Charlie Brown reads every year.  Read the entire first two chapters of Luke.  Maybe even take a look at Matthew as well.  Try to read them as if you didn't know the end of the story.  What would it have been like to be a teenage girl trying to convince people that you were still righteous when all of the evidence pointed to the contrary?  What would it have been like to be a young man offering to raise a child who wasn't his based on a dream about an angel?  What would it have been like to be a redneck sheep farmer surrounded by angels inviting you to the birth of a king?  Before it was the Greatest Story Ever Told, Christmas was something experienced by normal people.


2) Do some research.  Ok, so I'm a theology nerd, but a little bit of reading goes a long way toward making sense out of a world completely different than our own.  Two books I would reccomend are The Jesus I Never Knew by Phillip Yancey and  The Jesus Conspiracy by Gordon Thomas.  Both of these do an excellent job of introducing 21st Century Americans to 1st Century Palestine.  Additionally, the prose of the first and the prose/narrative combination of the second draw the reader in almost like a novel.  Challenge yourself to discover the additional dimensions of a story that you think you already know well.


3) Live the story.  If the problem is that we have lost focus of the "reason for the season" in our capitalistic furor, perhaps the best solution is to refocus ourselves personally.  In an effort to redefine Christmas, there is a movement to move away from commercialism by encouraging people to donate to charity instead.  On the first Christmas God gave of Himself to people who could in no way pay him back.  Mary's Song celebrated the fact that God would care for the poor and the hungry would be fed.  Too often we think about the three rich guys in the story who gave the fancy gifts and forget about all of the poor and disenfranchised who make up practically every other character.  This Christmas let's do more to remember them.


josh r.

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