Monday, December 17, 2012

'tis the season... so why don't I feel anything?

During this holiday time, Christians everywhere are rejoicing.  

It is a time of great celebration -- 
of proclaiming our Faith -- 
of commemorating our Saviour's birth.

Photo Credit: Nick Lamparter on flickr

You hear it.  You say it.  You experience it.  
I know you know what I'm talking about.

But how genuine is it?

I mean -- no, wait: I know it's genuine.  And I've been there too -- and I say these things too -- and I celebrate too.  But I have to admit: just as much as I'm prone to be mindlessly sing, "How Great Thou Art," so I am prone to mindlessly say, "Our focus this Christmas season is the celebration of Christ."

You say it because you know it's true.  
You say it because you believe it.

But you also say it because you want it to be true.  You want your focus of the holidays to be on Jesus -- not only because you "know it's the right thing to do," but because you are truly thankful and in awe of what God has accomplished through Jesus.

And yet.

Are We Really Embodying the Holiday's Meaning?
How often do we say "the right things" in passing without fully embodying them in our lives?

Here's my confession: I find it really difficult to embody the celebration of Christ during Christmas and Easter.  I mean -- I do celebrate and I do want to really consider what these times mean, but during the holiday seasons -- I admit -- the majority of my time and energy is devoted to writing cards and wrapping presents.

That's not to say I do not know why we celebrate.
That's not to say I do not weep when I hear the Gospel message proclaimed in its full glory and truth.

I do.

But when it comes to the holiday season -- when I'm "supposed" to feel something extra special about Jesus and the Gospel -- I always feel like I'm coming up short.

Part of the problem here is an infantile-view of what it means to be Christian.  When I was a kid, I wanted to feel things deeply.  A worship song just wasn't a worship song until I was ravaged by emotion, you know?  But that's not the truth. 

Just as loving someone doesn't mean feeling head-over-heels-crazy day-in and day-out (because seriously -- there's no way Elliott and I could have kept up the "Let's talk until dawn every day and never go to sleep again" stage of our relationship), loving the Lord doesn't mean I have to be wrecked by emotion day-in and day-out (because seriously -- life is life and although I can practice praying ceaselessly and certainly try to do so, we still have to eat dinner at the end of the day).

Okay.  So maybe I don't have to worry so much about feeling something during this season.  I still think that I should be in awe of the Lord Incarnate.  Right?

How Do We Do It?
I know we are meant to be in awe every single day of the year -- I get that.  But just as we truly celebrate people when it is their birthday -- just as we truly celebrate anniversaries of momentous occasions -- so too should I truly celebrate the birth of the Christ.

I shouldn't go through this time mindlessly singing Christmas carols, but joyously proclaiming the Truth through song.  I shouldn't go through this time focused mainly on presents and Christmas cards, but purposefully setting aside time to explain to my daughter what this is all about.  I fear that if I don't, she'll quickly learn that Christmas = presents before Christmas = the Gospel.

So how do I do it?

For starts, I am going back to the Old Testament -- to Isaiah and Jeremiah -- and relishing in the amazing words of Hope that Christmas truly gives us...

"But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.  And I will be their God and they shall be my people.  And no longer shall each one say to his neighbor and each his brother saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they shall all know me... 
For I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more."
Jeremiah 31:33-34, ESV

If you're like me and find yourself somehow just "going through the Christmas motions," then I encourage you to dig deep into the prophets before jumping into the Christmas story in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  Let each word soak into your soul.  Don't rush.  Don't assume you know all this stuff already -- go into the Word as if for the first time and let God surprise you with the truth He has to offer.

That means giving a bit more space to the Bible and to prayer than perhaps you're used to.  But if you don't change some habits -- if I don't change some habits -- then this Christmas will pass by and the days will pass by without truly embodying the Gospel message.

  • How do you do it?  How do you embody the Gospel during the Christmas season?
  • Have you struggled in a similar way to me?

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