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ChristmaSpirit

Focus on Christ at Christmas

When most people celebrate Christmas, the focus isn't on Christ. This creates a strange, self-perpetuating cycle fueled mostly by materialism and commercialism and activities that are poor substitutes for the real meaning of Christmas. It's something which you may be discontent with and stressed out by each year, yet can't seem to bring yourself to escape from.

We find that it takes a lot of intentionality to include the true meaning of Christmas in our Christmas celebration. We did not realize this ourselves until we moved overseas and lived for several years in a land where the people of the land generally did not celebrate Christmas. We actually loved celebrating Christmas there. We would get together with a few believers and have a wonderful time celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

Then we found that when we came back to America for visits during Christmas (and also after we moved back here later) that, although we had family to be with here, we did not like Christmas as well here as we did overseas. And that really puzzled us. So we started thinking more and more about it each Christmas. We realized that in America many Christmas songs, activities, decorations, and the huge emphasis on gifts actually pull our minds and hearts away from the true meaning of Christmas and toward a substitute which wrecks our finances, encourages greed and covetousness in our children, and at best, becomes a family reunion with the central theme being gifts for children.

The true meaning of Christmas starts with Jesus Christ giving Himself to us. For you, He gives you the example of giving of yourself, putting others before you. We're not just talking about buying someone a gift when you could have bought something for yourself. Check out these words from God.

"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness." (Phil 2:4-7, NIV)

"You know that our Lord Jesus Christ was kind enough to give up all his riches and become poor, so that you could become rich." (2 Cor 8:9, CEV)

"The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matt 20:28, ESV)

Recently a few days before Christmas I witnessed an act done by someone who understood the true meaning of Christmas. I was in a pharmacy when a woman walked in with two children, a girl maybe 8 years old, and a boy maybe 10-12. The girl was quiet and staying several feet away from the woman and boy. The woman was restraining the boy with both arms as they walked up to the counter. The boy was making shrieks and noises, yelling or mumbling random words and phrases, while struggling against his mother. He is autistic.

Looking obviously like she was under extreme stress and strain, the woman spoke loudly but hesitantly to the pharmacist. She was struggling to concentrate while holding the child and be heard over his noises. She could hardly focus enough to speak. She asked the prices of her medicines. The pharmacist told her that the autistic child's medicines were free, paid for by the state Medicaid program. But hers were not free. And though she had insurance, she could not afford the prices that she had to pay for her medicines. She said, "I'll just take the Prozac. I can't get the others. I only have $28 to live on the whole week. She was ashamed, stuttering and stammering, and having a very hard time dealing with the autistic child and her transaction at the same time.

In the meantime, another lady had been standing 15-20 feet away, waiting her turn. She walked up beside the mother and said to the pharmacist, "I'll pay for her medicine. Let me pay for her medicine." The pharmacist looked back and forth at the two women as suddenly a hush came over the autistic child.

There were several seconds of hesitation as the pharmacist and the strained mother took in what was happening. Then the second woman again said, "Let me pay for her medicine." The pharmacist looked at her and said, "It's up to her," then looked at the young mother and said, "It's up to you." The young mother turned and focused completely on the older woman for the first time as the older woman talked to her instead of the pharmacist this time. "Can I pay for your medicine?" asked the second lady in a voice that showed she was asking for permission.

The young mother just broke out crying while nodding her head. All she could say was "Thank you," five or ten times. Then the second woman paid for the medicine as the autistic child now waited quietly and patiently. As soon as the transaction was done, the young mother and children left.

They missed the rest of the story. The second lady then proceeded to get her own medicine from the pharmacist. And it turned out that she herself was on the state Medicaid program, which is for people below the poverty level that do not have enough money to pay for their own medicine. She, out of her own poverty, had paid $70 for the medicine of someone that she did not know, but loved and served.

The meaning of Christmas can be found in that kind of example. Jesus Christ gave up His high position and became our servant, to show His love to us. Today we should begin celebrating by honoring Jesus and emulating Him.

Start trying to put the true meaning of Christmas into your Christmas. Making Christmas more spiritual is not that easy in America. Below you will find ideas about how to approach the planning of the many changes that need to take place to move from an average Christmas to a Christmas that is focused on Christ. If you are married, talk about the concepts and big-picture issues with your spouse. Make plans for what you want to do differently in the coming year. You may want to consider making changes in steps over a period of years rather than all at once in one year.

Step 1)
In your home start spiritual traditions/activities that focus on Christ. (See the Traditions/Activities page.)

Step 2) Decide whether or not to do Santa Claus. Check out our Santa Claus page.

Step 3) Replace non-spiritual Christmas decorations with spiritual decorations. See more on that on our Decorations page.

Step 4) Replace non-spiritual Christmas music with spiritual music. See more on Songs page.

Step 5) Consider changing your gift-giving habits. See more on the
Gifts page.

Step 6) Look at our Second-rate Christmas page and see if there is more that you need to turn away from in order to turn your heart toward Christ at Christmas.

Step 7) Take some of your money formerly spent on gifts and redirect it to world evangelization, to spread the salvation for which Jesus came to earth. Your church probably has a connection with some good organization that you can contribute to. See our Spread the News page.


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