Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Don't Bubble-wrap Your Jesus

Dear Friends,

I miss Christmas already. I loved going into the most secular retail stores and hearing on their music system, the words to Hark The Harold Angels Sing: “Christ by highest heav’n adored, Christ the everlasting Lord. Late in time behold Him come, offspring of a Virgin’s womb. Veiled in flesh the God-head see, hail the Incarnate Deity...”

We all join hands and celebrate that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” and then we end the season and put Him back in the box. We take the lights off the dried-out tree and  carefully remove the fragile porcelain nativity figurines from the stable. We bubble-wrap the baby Jesus and pack him away.

A family was driving by their church the week after Christmas. Their son had noticed that the Nativity Scene in front of the church had been already taken down. The little boy said, “Look they've put Jesus away for another year.”

That's what the world does with Jesus. If Jesus was even a part of their Christmas celebration, He's now packed away with the lights, ornaments and tree stand. But does the celebration of Jesus really end when there’s nothing left under the tree but dried pine needles scattered on the tree skirt and the trash cans are filled with crumpled wrapping paper?

By the end of the 19th Century, the start of the Christmas season was no longer being determined by the church. The major department stores had hijacked the holy days and reinvented Christmas to be a time of giving gifts. Today the Christmas season is driven by the National Retail Federation and officially begins when the plastic Santas are on the shelf next to the Halloween skeletons.
Let's do something revolutionary and take back the Christmas season. Let’s make it Christ-centered and have it start on the first Advent Sunday.  But then let's do something even more radical. Let's have this “Christ Season” never end! What if our celebration and worship of Jesus started every year on the first Sunday of Advent but never ended? What if the "Season that Jesus is the Reason of" never ended but that season just continued all year long?  And then, on every first Advent Sunday, the season just started all over again?

And what if every day of that season, we longed to live our lives in the presence of the One who was the Child in the manger? What if every day of that season, we dropped to our knees to confess our sins of the day and prayed that God would bring us into the image – the very likeness – of His Son Jesus Christ? What if every opportunity we had during our new extended Christ Season, we spoke with others about Jesus. What if instead of inviting our family and friends to church with us on Christmas and Easter, what if we invited them to come to church on February 10th or how about May 5th. Or even August 25th? Or even next Sunday?

Christmas Day is over. Vacuum up the dried pine needles. Pack up the Nativity set. But don’t bubble-wrap the real Son of God and pack Him away. Let's keep the real Jesus right here in our day-to-day life.  Yes, Jesus is the Reason for the Season but let’s be subversive and make His season a season that never ends.  Amen?