A few years ago my children wished the Kohl’s shoppers a Merry Christmas. The children were sitting on top of our van spreading Christmas cheer to anyone who was within twenty-five yards of their voices.
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As they were singing, two ladies passed by and greeted them with a Merry Christmas, and then one of the ladies asked, “Do you think Santa can see you from the North Pole?” Somewhat under his breath, my 8-year old son leaned down to me and said, “No, but God can see us.” I smiled, encouraged he knew the difference between the two Christmases.
- The cultural Christmas
- The Christ-centered Christmas
The Cultural Christmas
My children do not believe in the cultural Santa, or the Lion King, Ariel, and Puss-in-Boots, though they enjoy the entertainment that those characters provide. I’m glad they can play make-believe. And I’m so happy they know how to imagine, as well discern the limitations of human imagination.
We have not withheld the cultural Christmas from them. We have a Christmas tree, Christmas lights, a Santa figurine, stockings on the mantle, and other family traditions that center on the cultural Christmas. One of our favorite things to do is pick and cut our special tree from The Merry Christmas Tree Farm.
Typically, we watch Miracle on 34th Street, and It’s a Wonderful Life, always hoping George Bailey will make it out of Bedford Falls.
Then there is 98.9 that plays Christmas music in our home from Thanksgiving to New Years. This season is always fun, full of good memories, entertaining, and a lot of laughing. It is a season that comes and goes, and we try to enjoy as much of it as we can.
The Christ-Centered Christmas
Then there is the other celebration in our home. It’s supra-seasonal, not constrained by time, place, or money. It is a daily celebration that runs throughout the year. Our enthusiasm for this kind of celebration perseveres because it comes through grace and is empowered by the gospel.
It is not a secularized cultural event. All year we celebrate the incarnate, crucified, risen, and reigning Savior. While there are times when the cultural Christmas can be annoying or in the way, there is never an unwanted intrusion of the biblical Christmas.
I hope your pace of life this Christmas season does not make you out-of-sync with the real Christmas. If it has, I appeal to you to stop, slow down, and take a break. While the cultural Christmas can be fun, it is not that important.
If your activity does not point you to the Savior, your busyness needs recalibration. Christmas is one of many things in our lives that can point us to the gospel, but if the cultural Christmas interferes with that, you must reconsider the purposes of your activities.
He must increase, but I must decrease. – John 3:30
Call to Action
- Which Christmas takes up most of your time during this season?
- Are your activities increasing your affection for the incarnate Lord?
- How do your activities exalt Christ in your heart or the hearts of others?
Also published on Medium.