Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Juggling Christmas

Well, I can tell you, after being down-and-out with the flu bug on Sunday, it sure is good to be back to my old self again. Thanks to Pastor Brent for preaching for me--I hear he did an exceptional job.

Sunday's message was about "Thanks & Giving", and I hope everybody enjoys their turkeys on Thursday, but it seems like this week's holiday is almost completely eclipsed by the monolith that is Christmas. Already, there are Christmas displays in all the stores, door-buster sales, Christmas trees at Kroger, and a nativity scene at the BP station at Parnall & Lansing. Already, the news media is wringing its hands about the impact the soft economy is going to have on the "Christmas shopping season"--that is, the season formerly known as "fall". Today, I got my first, "Are you ready for Christmas yet?" (I told the asker that I was ready for Thanksgiving.)

On Thursday, after our meal-induced naps, many of us will pore over the sales papers, readying our battle plans to take on the stores on Friday. And despite the dire predictions, we will still buy digital cameras, flat-screen TVs, and entire seasons of syndicated TV shows on DVD. It will still be impossible to find a Nintendo Wii, and the traffic at Jackson Crossing will still be awful.

All of this is why we're starting our new series next Sunday called "Juggling Christmas." It seems that "the most wonderful time of the year" has actually morphed into the most stressful, chaotic, exhausting, expensive, can't-possibly-fit-in-one-more-thing time of year. Between the presents, the gatherings, the office gift exchange, the secret Santas, the parades, the candy, the expectations of family, the traffic, the weather, and the lines at the mall... well, it's tough to keep all the balls in the air.

Truth be told, our lives are probably already too complex, and trying to appease the beast of Christmas is a pretty daunting proposition.

The greatest tragedy of all is that all of this activity is meant (allegedly) to commemorate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ--a birth that was simple, quiet, and largely unnoticed. But in reality, most of the time the manger gets lost in all the hoopla. Oh, certainly, we trot it out as one of our decorations to adorn the mantle or the table or the hutch, and we may attend the Christmas Eve service, or read Luke 2 on Christmas morning. But is it really for Him that we rev up the Christmas machine? Or rather do we do it for ourselves? Or for other people who expect us to do it?

The message of this series is a basic one: SIMPLIFY. We have a month. What can we chuck? What can we dump? What can we unload to make this Christmas different, more meaningful, less a production and more an act of worship? Because if the frenzy of our Christmas doesn't center around Him, then why even do it?

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