Are you in the Christmas spirit?
For me, the Christmas Spirit can feel hit or miss at times.
The celebration of Jesus’ birth brings me great joy. I love the old Christmas hymns, love setting up our manger scene and attending Christmas Eve service.
But sometimes all the crazed consumerism strikes a jarring note of dissonance in God’s Silent Night.
When I see videos of Black Friday shoppers lined up in front of stores, or rooms crammed with presents yet seemingly empty of Jesus, I feel grumpy. REALLY grumpy. It seems to me as if the Lord’s birth has been commandeered as an excuse for a marathon of competitive greed. Often those who celebrate Christmas with the most determination also seem to be the ones who have shut Jesus most determinedly out of their hearts the rest of the year.
Yet despite this, I can’t deny that Jesus appears to be miraculously at work within those same hearts.
As if by magic, everyone suddenly seems kinder, more generous, more open, more ready to offer a smile or a helping hand to those who need it.
To quote Charles Dickens’ immortal description, Christmas is “a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”
This is one of the best descriptions I’ve ever read of “the Christmas Spirit.”
It’s also a very good description of the life that Jesus calls us to live every day…not just during the Christmas season.
As Colossians 3 says: “…clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other…Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body.”
Whether or not Christ dwells in their hearts, God allows each person this brief moment to feel his presence, and experience the call to live as He wants us to live. And the joy is so great that they can’t help but let it overflow with showy light displays, piles of wrapped gifts, the most gorgeous Christmas tree. And I must admit that’s pretty amazing.
It really is true that the news of Jesus’ birth, as described in Luke, still represents “good tidings of great joy that shall be to all people.” All people everywhere, no matter where they live, how much money they have, or even their relationship with Jesus the rest of the year.
We get this brief moment in time when the whole world feels the pull of the Holy Spirit on their hearts.
And I say…God bless it.