December 2, 2016
The Radical Dance of Celebration and the Sacred
I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete (John 15:11, NIV).
Friend to Friend
For years, I’ve heard the same message in sermons, Bible studies, magazine articles, and on social media: Christmas is not about the gifts, decorating, how the Christmas ham is prepared, parties or even Christmas cookies. We are all supposed to stop doing All. The. Things. and simply reflect in the glow of our Charlie Brown Christmas tree and spend the entire month rereading the story of Christ’s birth from Luke.
And for all those years, I’ve felt guilty about being madly in love with the “stuff” of Christmas. I love having friends and family over to eat, drink (hot chocolate) and be merry. I enjoy filling our grown kids’ stockings with care. I adore planning for our family’s Christmas Eve dinner. I even get a thrill from sending out (and receiving) Christmas cards.
While the world may go overboard when it comes to “celebrating” the season (just watch any video of a Wal-Mart opening on Black Friday to see what I’m talking about . . .), in many ways, I’ve felt guilty for finding happiness in any other way than attending church and singing Christmas carols. I know we are to have joy at Christmastime, but does God also care about our happiness?
One year, in the midst of the holiday season, a friend and I discussed biblical joy and happiness. I told her I’d heard a speaker recently say, “Joy is in 155 verses in the KJV Bible, but happiness doesn’t appear in the Bible once.”
And she countered, “Well, you’re just plain wrong.”
And she was right. Happiness not only appears several times in the Bible, but it’s something God values highly. For example:
“But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.” (Psalm 68:3)
But if happiness is important to God, why do we feel guilty about it?
Perhaps we get caught up in the expectations of others, and get busy with the doing of Christmas instead of in the being of Christmas.
Here are two things to keep in mind as we balance the celebration with the sacred.
1. Celebrate well. Do all the Christmas “stuff” you love, but do it with a purpose. Wrap gifts not just lovingly for your family, but for the toy drive at your church. Decorate the tree while listening to your favorite Christmas worship music. Send cards to older friends and family who will appreciate your thoughtfulness. Do everything with Christ’s love.
2. Practice His presence. Pull away from the busyness to reflect on what Christ means to you. Get a Christmas devotional, show up for church, and yes, read the Christmas story. Make a plan to keep Christ in the middle of your celebration.
Now during December, I walk around with a secret: While the world goes crazy with all their plans, I not only get to experience God’s presence, but His pleasure, in the midst of it all.
Dear Lord, I don’t want to miss You in the midst of celebrating You. Quiet my heart so that I may hear You in the midst of all the holiday noise.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
What is one way you can add more of the sacred to your holiday celebration?
More from the Girlfriends
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