Sunday, December 11, 2005

REFLECTIONS FROM THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS


"Celebrate the spirit of Christmas" (words on a T-shirt). At this time of year you hear many people talking about getting into the Christmas spirit. What is the Christmas spirit?
Can I even speak of the true spirit of Christmas without becoming politically incorrect?

Oh, Ba Humbug on political correctness!
The spirit of Christmas means different things to different people-another holiday, time off from work, family reunion, giving and sharing, etc.

Christmas, it brings out the best in people, and it brings out the worse. We have probably all been around people from both persuasions. I want us to look at Christmas through the eyes of the Grinch. You might have watched the cartoon, or read the book by Dr Seuss, How the Grinch stole Christmas, or seen the Jim Carrey Movie of the same name. Or you might not have done any of these. Can we look at Christmas through the Eyes of the Grinch?

Some People hate Christmas! Hate is a strong word, and some people feel strongly about Christmas. In in the United States they say happy holiday now instead of Merry Christmas. They sing of Frosty and Santa but not Jesus, the Christ of Christmas all because of political correctness... is it possible that some of those people also hate Christmas? My, even the Grinch hated Christmas.

Everyone who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot…But the Grinch, who lived just north of Who-ville did not! The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season! Now, please don’t ask why? No one quite knows the reason. It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right. It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight. But I think that the most likely reason of all may have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

Hatred can bear bitter roots. It can prevent people from attaining their true God given potential because they become consumed with the hate which has taken root. Hatred, if left untended, will affect everything around it. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, it could turn to hatred and hatred leading to devastating results.

But, whatever the reason, His heart or his shoes, He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the Whos, staring down from his cave with a sour, Grinch frown at the warm lighted windows below in their town. For he know every who down in who-ville beneath was busy now hanging a mistletoe wreath. And they’re hanging their stockings! He snarled with a sneer. Tomorrow is Christmas! It’s practically here! Then he growled, with his Grinch fingers nervously drumming, I must find some way to stop Christmas from coming.

Some People try to steal Christmas. This time of year, more often than not, We hear of some shopper, whose presents weren’t bought. They have gone in the store, there intention was clear, to fill their pockets with all kinds of gear. The tapes and the CD’s, little toys or robots. All because they thought they were good girls and boys. Christmas they think is just free for the takin’ and when caught they think the clerk was mistaken. What causes people to think that Christmas can be stole. Could it be they have been misinformed by a diabolical foe?

Stealing Christmas is more than just filling our pockets, or taking gifts from someone else’s car. We steal Christmas when we get caught up in other things rather than the real meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ, and those things become the central focus of our celebration. Santa, and Frosty, and reindeer and sleighs can point to the Christ of Christmas or they can steal it away, it is all in how we present it.

All the Who girls and boys would wake bright and early. They’d rush for their toys! And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise! That’s one thing he hated! The Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!Then the Whos, young and old, would sit down to a feat, and they’d feast! And they’d feast! And they’d feast, Feast! Feast! Feast! They would feast on Who pudding, and rare Who roast beast which was something the Grinch couldn’t stand in the least! And then they’d do something he like least of all! Every who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small, would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing. They’d stand hand in hand. And the whos would start singing. They’s sing! And they’d sing! And they’s ding! Sing! Sing! Sing! And the more the Grinch though of this who-Christmas sing, the more the Grinch though, “I must stop this whole thing! Why, for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now! I must stop this Christmas from coming! But how?

Thoughts...part 2 coming sooner than next Monday!

17 comments:

kenny said...

wow, I continue to be amazed at the pondering...even the grinch is not safe!
I enjoyed part 1.
Working in the school system as a TA, and the Christmas concert...oh sorry, The Winter Holidays concert has brought about some conversation. All in all most of the staff are of the same thought...Christmas has always been Christmas and always will be. That as soon as you state Christ...people take offense. We can talk about Hannukah or Ramadan or any other religion, but Christmas and the true meaning? It is very disheartening. I plan to talk up the reason this season!
bless you...as you continue to stir up people to think, dialogue and live together in community.

younghands said...

I hang in church circles and some people are getting REALLY upset how our society is rejecting the word Christmas. Christian people moan and complain that people aren’t interested in Jesus and the Christian heritage. They blame other religions, young people and the media. You know who I blame. I blame me, I blame the church which I am part of. For too long I have lived like Jesus Christ is dead. We are trying be good in memory of him.
I guess what I am trying to say is if we did a better job representing Jesus. How did Jesus describe himself Luke 4:18-19
18"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
19to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
If I could introduce people to this Jesus, instead of the religious Jesus, they would want to celebrate his birth with me. In a world so desperate for real heroes why do we make Jesus so bland?

Mark said...

Beautiful Crafted BLog there G.
Makes me wonder... why do people have a such a response to 'Christ'mas. Is there a reason why people are so intolerant of Christianity... Could there be a reason why people are reacting the way they are? Of course the 'christian' response is that it is the 'enemy' trying to stop the growth of the church and its influence. Christians wave their flags of persectuion and feel even more self righteous in their religious belief system. Maybe there is something else to the way people respond? Thoughts?

SB said...

Sometimes it seems that Jesus is bland though, most heros you can see, most heros will talk and make their names known. Examples, Superman, Spiderman, Batman. Jesus on the other hand doesnt do these things, hes got a weird way of dealing with it, something i cannot fathom.

Maybe people see it this way, a 2000 year old hero, with charecteristics of 2000 years ago, and no one has seen this man since 2000 years ago. He rarely shows his face, spiritually of course, and he doesnt say a word. Again all generalizations of why Jesus doesnt seem to be a hero to people. He doesnt offer anything material, nothing to Root for, just something else for people to work for, with no immediate benefits.

Jesus doesnt seem to be a hero to Christians anymore either, well at least some, look at Christmas. Christians are spending just as much time fueling the Juggernaut we call Santa, as non christians who is the Hero of Christmas to many people, including many of our kids in society. Santa Claus has become the universal Hero of Christmas. Everyone knows him, though ironically he is just like Jesus, no one sees him or talks to him. But somehow its working for him, he is noticed. Why is it like this?

I often wonder why this is, a guy that offers nothing but false teachings, gets all the attention at "Christ"mas. I cannot understand why God doesnt jsut strike down people sometimes, sometimes i wish he would just take control and do something. We are losing Jesus on his own Birthday, Easter isnt much of a christian holiday anymore, that pescky rabbit seems to get in the way there. Thanksgiving = Football. Good Friday is a day off. To Christians these holidays are big, but how do we reach out to the non Christians that, to them, have more exciting things to do on these holidays? This puzzles me, i have no ideas, without selling Christianity. No one is interested it seems.

Anyways, i would like some thoughts on this, so please share.

Mark said...

I muse... Maybe our version of the greco-roman hero [Jesus was never meant to be portrayed as a hero][lol we are so deeply influenced by greek thought]. Or the Jesus we peddle is not interesting to the world we know as 'secular' (or normal to be more accurate). Jesus is the most compelling person but yet 'Christians' have turned him into a repulsive irrelevant recluse. I wonder if what Nicci was saying 'God is Dead' was really a thoughtful and probing statement into the shallow culture that 'Christians'[those that claim God is alive] have created? Again maybe the response to our 'Christ'mas from those around us is the same probing (yet unsaid) question brought back to us to rethink and come up with yet another of our pat answers.

filletofsoul said...

Personally I am kind of glad people want to change "Christmas" to "Holiday Season" or whatever the word is. Every year I put up our christmas tree I get a sick feeling in my stomach because it makes me think about how twisted our view of Christmas has become. It would be nice if people would actually celebrate "Christmas" in the Christian sense but lets face it, to a mast majority of Canadians and Americans, you say "Christmas" and they just equate it with Santa, a decorated tree and lots of shopping. Is that really what we want to call "Christmas"? What would be wrong with having a "Holiday Season"? Why are Christian's noses so out of joint and offended when people want to call a tree a holiday tree instead of a christmas tree? I don't recall an evergreen being a central part of the nativity scene. Wouldn't it be nice to take back the word "Christmas" for the actual Christians and know when people say they celebrate it that they mean they are celebrating the birth of Christ? Those are my thoughts on the matter.

Vicki A. Davis said...

1 John 4:16-18 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)

"16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."

The political/religious leaders put Jesus to death. We can expect the same. Better to be politically incorrect with love than to be emptily PC (politically correct.)

My PC is the Perfect Christ. Merry Christmas!

Great blog, soul pastor!

Little Worshiper said...

Some interesting comments. I think Christmas is two fold. There's the "happy holiday" part of it, and then there's the Jesus part of it. We seem to freak out when non-christians want to focus on Santa and presents, etc. Why? Jesus doesn't mean anything to them so why would they celebrate him? The problem comes when we as Christians get into the festive "happy holiday" but don't hold as highly the birth of Jesus. Just think about it. Jesus "had it all" and yet he came as a helpless little baby, taking on everything human except for sin so he could save us from our sin and restore our relationship with him. that is increadible! So as Christians, we need to thank Jesus for his love, especially this time of year.
I mentioned there seems to be two parts to Christmas... so about the "happy holiday" part... We can still be involved in the celebration of Christmas as the world does. Trees, lights, families getting together, presents, etc. So long as these things do not become the most important thing.
Don't hate Santa. Use him! REDEMPTIVE ANALOGIES! Santa is a nice, loving guy who loves to give gifts to people. He's omnipresent... knows if you've been bad or good... sound like someone you know? WE can relate God to the positive example of Santa and then go on to share the amazing truth that God gave the greatest gift of Jesus. Santa only gives gifts if you've been good... but God gave a gift even to those who are bad... because we're all people who sin...
Younghands... exellent comment. We talk about it, how do we do it?
Soulpastor, your thoughts so far?

Mark said...

Can we do both? Exist in both worlds?

SB said...

Santa, or St. Nicolas was a man of God, not a guy who gives presents.

http://www.joyfulheart.com/christmas/st-nick.htm

This site has the real story behind Santa Clause, or St. Nicolas, i doubt this is the way he would want to be celebrated. Some Legacy eh, a man of Christ, turned into a Secular Icon. This guy must be rolling in his grave.

Maybe we should be asking stuff from Jesus instead of Santa on Christmas, or maybe we should just celebrate what he has done for us, because in the end the presents we get arent going to matter much in the end, heck i dont even remember what i got when i was 14.

Maybe people should ask Santa for a relationship with Jesus, wonder if i was good enough if i would get it. (General question here, already am a Christian, lol)

Michael said...

Jenn & Paul - you raise an interesting point.

Should we be getting riled over people trying to "remove the 'Christ' in Christmas"?

Personally, I don't think so. These are people who don't acknowledge Christ in their lives the other 364 days a year. Why do we get so offended that they don't want to acknowledge Him for a season?

What's more, why do we assume that society should conform to Christian values? We're blessed to live in a country with a 'Christian' heritage, but that doesn't mean we're entitled to force Christianity upon everyone.

Example - I didn't have a problem when prayer was removed from public schools. Seriously. Jesus never forced anyone to worship Him - why should we? If you want your kids to have a Christian education - send them to a Christian school.

In the same way, wish everyone a Merry CHRISTmas this year, show them the love of Christ in your actions, and make your Christmas about Him - not about the stuff. Don't get caught up in the 'righteous anger' of being disgusted by society's commercialized version of the holiday. It does nothing but raise your blood pressure.

My .02

Michael

SoulPastor said...

So what are my thoughts?
Ummmmmm.
Part Two is coming soon...

Maybe, I will keep them to myself and see what the rest of you have to say!

Jordan said...

"TO HELL WITH HOLIDAY! PUT CHRIST BACK IN CHRISTMAS!" That was from a Tampa Newspaper... Well also it was posted on the side of a church who spent $300,000 on the sign that was 60 by 50 feet! They did this because they felt offended by companies who used the word Holiday in there Signs or what not. So what do you ALL think bout that?

Jordan said...

Sorry that was $3000 on the sign. Still a aweful amount.

Michael said...

$300,000 would buy one honkin' big sign. :)

What do I think?

I think they got a bunch of phone calls from Christians saying 'right on! about time! tell it like it is! preach it!'

And I think not a single, solitary, unsaved person drove by and thought "that looks like somewhere I'd feel welcome - I should check it out this Sunday"

And I think that's sad.

Michael

filletofsoul said...

to jordan

.....and that is why there are movies like "Saved" being made and people can relate.

Highlander said...

Big signs (and wonders) may yell for attention, but people are looking for connection and belonging. You may draw the currious, but will you keep them?

Make Christmas Christ centred in your own life. After all, He will "draw all men".