Monday, December 1, 2008

RETHINKING CHRISTMAS 2008!


One of my favorite movies is the Christmas classic, A Christmas Story, the saga of a little boy named Ralphie Parker growing up in Gary, Indiana of the 1950’s. Ralphie has been drinking Ovaltine for months, saving up box tops so that he could send in a get a Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Ring. Finally, the Secret Decoder Ring arrives. He listens to Little Orphan Annie on the radio, waiting for the secret code message. He carefully writes down the code and then rushes off to the bathroom to be begin the decoding process. The suspense builds as he decodes the first few letters "Be sure to.." Be sure to what. The fate of the world could rest in his hands. His pencil flies as he feverishly struggles to decode the rest of the message. "Be sure to drink your Ovaltine." A crummy commercial?! Sometimes you just don’t feel like you get what you asked for at Christmas do you?

I think a lot of times we actually cheat ourselves out of a great Christmas because our expectations of the Christmas holiday are so wrong and misplaced. We all strive for the Norman Rockwell Christmas only to end up with a Clark Griswold Christmas. So this year I want to offer you some practical advice which may just help you and your family have a better Christmas.
First, when it comes to Christmas this year just try to keep it simple. Jesus was born into some pretty simple circumstances to some simple, everyday people. He lived a life of humility and simplicity which became a major characteristic of both His life and His ministry. If simplicity characterized Jesus, then why shouldn’t it characterize Christmas? After all, Christmas really is all about Jesus, right? Why not keep this in mind as you make your holiday plans? You don’t have to cram your days full of activities, and you do not have to make everything big and over the top. Why not keep it simple this year?

Second, make it a priority to spend time with those closest to you. We need to be there in the lives of people we love by showing them love and serving them. Spending time with these loved ones will allow you to create lasting memories. Your presence more than your presents will say to these people, “I value you enough to give you my most precious asset- my time.” Isn’t it amazing how at Christmas we spend lots of money on gifts, yet we are like misers with our time? We fill our December calendar so full that we do not have time for those who mean the most to us, much less time for Jesus. One thing you read about Jesus’ ministry in the New Testament is how He spent time with people, especially His disciples. This should be something we do this year.

Finally, I want to encourage you to focus on giving, rather than receiving this year. Some of you will automatically say that this is a normal response from you at Christmas, but in reality for most people it is not. What has happened all across America and even among God’s people is that we have replaced true, heartfelt, delightful giving with a hollow materialism that makes us all overspend during the holidays. We should give out of love and gratitude first to God this Christmas. He deserves our tithes and our offerings. We should give to missions during the month of December. We should give our time to help others. We should use our talents to make someone else’s’ Christmas better this year.
During Christmas 2008, we need to simply and humbly give of ourselves just as God gave His all to us in sending His Son, Jesus into the word. This will keep your Christmas in the right perspective. When it is over you will feel the genuine love and joy of Christmas for perhaps the first time in years.