I am far from being a crusader for keeping Christ in Christmas. It’s not that I’m not a Christian, it’s because I have so many friends who are near and dear to my heart who aren’t Christians and celebrate Christmas for different reasons. None of them are evil Grinches who are trying to rain on my parade. Rather, they are beautiful, kind individuals of different faiths (or non-faiths) who celebrate family, generosity, and a spirit of fun at Christmastime. I respect that because I love them and the Christmas they celebrate is very much like the Christmas I celebrate as a Christian.
As a Christian, though, my Christmas does have a major component that is very important to me. It is the birthday of Jesus Christ, someone I look to as God incarnate, a Savior, a teacher, and a role model.
Even though I’m not the evangelical crusader brand of Christian, it is so important that I remember the main reason that I celebrate Christmas, the birth of Christ, rather than getting distracted by the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.
Charlie Brown Christmas came on TV a couple nights ago, and if there’s anything that captures more perfectly how I feel about Christmas, I don’t know what it is!
Exodus 32:1-8 “When Moses failed to come back down the mountain right away, the people went to Aaron. ‘Look,’ they said, ‘make us some gods who can lead us. This man Moses, who brought us here from Egypt, has disappeared. We don’t know what has happened to him.’ So Aaron said, ‘Tell your wives and sons and daughters to take off their gold earrings, and then bring them to me.’ All the people obeyed Aaron and brought him their gold earrings. Then Aaron took the gold, melted it down, and molded and tooled it into the shape of a calf. The people exclaimed, ‘O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt!’ When Aaron saw how excited the people were about it, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, ‘Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord!’ So the people got up early the next morning to sacrifice burnt offerings and peace offerings. After this, they celebrated with feasting and drinking, and revelry. The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt have acted perversely; they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!'”
This was one of the Scripture passages read and talked about in church today, and although I’ve heard this story countless times it really struck a chord with me. It made me think about how quickly I get discouraged when it seems that God is no longer listening or faithful, when my leader has stepped away for what I deem to be too long, when I’m having a hard time seeing God’s mercy in the world around me. I am easily discouraged, and easily look for other “idols” to worship. No, I don’t have a shrine in my apartment, but I easily turn my full attention to my studies, my social life, really any and every part of myself and other people, and turn the attention of my heart away from God. I think that that’s part of the human condition and the struggle of the flesh that we have here on Earth. And I rejoice because God is faithful and is always there when I’m ready to turn my attention back to him.