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Enjoying the Cultural and Christian Christmas

RMlogo Enjoying the cultural and Christian Christmas

The Christmas season is a double blessing for the believer. We get to celebrate the birth of Christ, a pivotal point of the gospel narrative. And we can enjoy the cultural Christmas too. It’s okay to engage the things of this world if your heart does not crave those things in a sinful way (James 1:14-15). What are the benefits of penetrating the culture to engage those who do not know Christ while enjoying the season?

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A Christmas Story

Our children hung outside a Kohl’s department store a few years ago, wishing the shoppers a Merry Christmas. They were sitting on top of our van spreading Christmas cheer to anyone who was within twenty-five yards of their outside voices.

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, our then eight-year old son leaned down to me and said, “No, but God can see us.” I smiled, encouraged that he knew the difference between the two Christmases.

  • There is a cultural Christmas.
  • There is a Christ-centered Christmas.

A Cultural Christmas

Our 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. I’m so happy they know how to imagine and discern while living within 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. During this season, one of our favorite things to do is choose and cut our unique tree from The Merry Christmas Tree Farm.

Typically, we watch the movies Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life, always hoping George Bailey will make it out of Bedford Falls. Then there are various Christmas playlists of Christmas music in our home from Thanksgiving to New Year. 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 possible.

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A Christocentric 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 the gospel empowers our Christocentric experience.

It is not a secularized cultural event at all. We celebrate the incarnate, crucified, risen, and reigning Savior all year. While there are times when the cultural Christmas can be annoying or in our way, there is never an unwanted intrusion of the biblical Christmas. This Christmas season, I hope your pace of life does not make you out-of-sync with the real Christmas.

I appeal to you to stop, slow down, and take a break if this season speeds you up too much. While the cultural Christmas can be fun, it is not that important. Your busyness needs recalibration if your activity does not point you to the Savior. Christmas is one of many things in our lives that can direct us to the gospel, but if the cultural Christmas interferes with that, you must reconsider the purposes of your activities.

Call to Action

  1. What are your cultural Christmas traditions? What are the benefits of making these memories in your marriage,  children, or close friends?
  2. Which Christmas takes up most of your time during this season? What are the habits that keep you relaxed year-round?
  3. How do your social media habits help reduce or increase your soul noise? If your media use hinders, what is your plan to change? Be specific and share your plans with someone who cares enough for you to help you change.
  4. How are your activities increasing your affection for the incarnate Lord? Will you share with someone how your affection for Christ is growing?

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