“More and more and more.” Seems like it should be the title song for today’s modern Christmas. As the father of four I struggle mightily with shifting my children’s focus away from “getting” to “giving”. It is no easy task. The relentless barrage of ads, jingles, coupons and “for a limited time only” sales overwhelms me. When I get the mail at the end of the day, I no longer really look through it. It nauseates me. All the “Black Friday Deals”, “Limited Holiday Savings”, and “Extended Cyber Monday” junk goes straight to the circular file.
Before you categorize me as one of those, “Holy roller, anti-fun, anti-Santa” Christians, ease up. I love giving and getting presents at Christmas. I love filling my kid’s stockings on Christmas Eve and I love staying up late with my lovely wife to put together that ridiculous toy that always seems to be missing one critical piece. It is all wonderfully aggravating…and worth it come that sweet Christmas morning.
What I cannot stand is our ability as modern Christians to celebrate Christmas without Christ. More and more I sense that He has been relegated to the role of tiny Caucasian plastic figurine. He is less and less the prophesied Messiah that all of creation has groaned and yearned for.
One response was given by the innkeeper when Mary and Joseph wanted to find a room where the Child could be born. The innkeeper was not hostile; he was not opposed to them, but his inn was crowded; his hands were full; his mind was preoccupied. This is the answer that millions are giving today. Like a Bethlehem innkeeper, they cannot find room for Christ. All the accommodations in their hearts are already taken up by other crowding interests. Their response is not atheism. It is not defiance. It is preoccupation and the feeling of being able to get on reasonably well without Christianity.
Have all the accommodations in your heart been taken up by crowding interests? Have your schedule, your pace of life and your family become so full of Christmas that there is nothing left for Christ? If you and I were to peal away the decorating, presents, parties, pageants and often-awkward family gatherings, would what is left be enough to elicit our devotion, rejoicing and worship? I wonder.
Last night our family gathered around our Advent candle and read Isaiah 9:6
What an amazing passage. So clear, so mysterious and so powerful. Yet it is the first three words that mean the most, “For unto us.” It wasn’t for a worldwide holiday filled with tinsel, ribbons and presents that Jesus came. It was for us. You, me, our wives, children, family and friends. The Incarnation, God humbling Himself on our behalf, is the point. So rejoice mightily! Celebrate without limits!! And love overwhelmingly!!! For unto YOU a Child is born, unto YOU a Son is given. Enjoy your traditions. Enjoy the gift giving. Enjoy the silly toys that bring simple joy to your children’s faces. But guard your heart and your family from allowing any of that to become the point of Christmas.