Buried in Christmas
I feel like I write (or want to write) the same post every year. It’s something along the lines of, “How I Miss the Point of Christmas as a Leader.” Holidays like Easter and Christmas have been a struggle for me for almost 22 years. As the time of celebration approaches, I begin the annual projects of planning, setting up, coordinating, and decorating. Before I know it, I look up from my work and realize that I’ve buried myself in Christmas.
It hit home when I was reading a devotional on the Prodigal Son. As I started it, my heart was turned toward how much of the story I already knew—until it started to talk about me. It described the older brother letting service distract him from the love relationship with the Father. So much of his life had been spent in dutiful obedience that he missed the gifts that were always available for him at home. He missed the love for the works.
For many years, I have heard about how being faithful and obedient is what matters most to our God. I have quoted Samuel in discussion with Saul that, “obedience is better than sacrifice.” I have waved this flag on the days I don’t feel like doing much of anything, even for the Lord. Yet now I wonder how often I forget to be in love with my Father.
This so often gets lost for us in ministry leadership at this Christmas season. We focus on all that needs to be done to make the season bright. We craft the perfect message for youth group and write special take-home devotionals. We feel pressure to find extra service projects to bring the point of the greatest gift home for students. Maybe your church puts on a food or toy drive or, like us, has a community outreach focus. We host a Christmas store that reaches several thousand families and utilizes almost as many volunteers. You might put on a live nativity or some other play. We try to express the point of Advent clearly. It’s all great stuff. It’s all in the name of Jesus.
Yet, in the midst of these projects, we lose the ability to stop and revel in the love relationship that brought about Christmas in the first place. When is the last time we really sat and took in all that this means? We hear it. We tell the Christmas story over and over, focusing on the details. But have those details distracted us from the very point of the Messiah story?
The other night, we were having a family advent time exploring the names of Jesus. We were talking about how he is the Prince of Peace. My three kids at home (all in middle and high school students) were disengaged and bored. I stopped and asked them, “Has this time just become one more thing to check off our to-do list?” The question was as much for me as it was for them. It led to a great family discussion on our relationship with our Lord.
If you are honest with yourself, is there a part of your soul that hates Christmas? I don’t mean the Jesus part, but do you hate the running around and the chores that need to be done in the name of the season? Do you feel like you are missing our Savior during the season that’s supposed to celebrate him?
Let’s stop the insanity. True, I can’t halt the community-wide event happening on Saturday. Yet, I can check my heart and ask, “Lord, am I in love with you?” When is the last time you wept at the thought of God leaving his throne to come to earth as a baby, or pondered that the Father sent his Son to earth to be born like us, to die, to conquer death just so right relationship could be restored with him?
Now, I am not saying ignore Christmas or the responsibilities that come with the season. I have seen that happen as well. Many a well-meaning youth leader doesn’t touch the Christmas story because they want us to know Jesus all year long. I think that’s a mistake. These times are important to reflect and remember. I am not asking you to nix buying presents or to start a Facebook campaign on how giving is better than receiving. Even those well-intentioned ideas miss the point. Are you serving because it’s the right thing to do, or because you can do nothing other than love and be loved by our Immanuel?
Reflect on these words spoken almost 700 years before Jesus arrived:
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,” (Isa. 9:6).
Reclaim your love for the Father and Son. Reclaim Christmas.
CC Image courtesy Robert the Noid on Flickr.
About the Author
Leneita Fix co-founded Frontline Urban Resources with Jeffrey Wallace to equip, coach, and speak into the lives of those working with families living in a “survival mode” mentality. They refer to this thinking as the “new urban.” Combined, they carry almost four decades of experience in the family ministry setting, most of it in traditional urban ministry. However each… Read More