Struggling to Recover Christmas

It is not difficult to confess how misguided we have become with Christmas.  The difficult part is figuring out how to find our way again.  We are going to exchange gifts as a family, but we have cut back.  Instead of trying to simply fill the wish list, we are trying to be more thoughtful and personal with our choices.  We have chosen a passage to meditate on and talk about throughout the season.  We are involving our daughters in missional acts this season.  But it is still busy, still expensive, and Christmas still feels as if it can be easily lost again this year.
Between family, school, church, the rec. team and a few other odds and ends our daughters are involved with, it seem as if for the next few weeks there is a party every 30 minutes, each of them requiring a $5 - $10 gift.  Before you know it, you’ve spent $60 - $80 on relatively frivolous things.  I know I sound “scrooge-ish” but I guess this year my conscience has been more awakened to the materialistic waste of it all.  An interesting note is that our oldest daughter, who is very conscious of the needs of others, is beginning to question the same things.  She is awakening to the pattern that at Christmas we mostly buy and do without personally connecting to a sense of need or meaning.  Many families in our church have shared the same sort of feelings my wife and I are experiencing.   We know there is something wrong, but with so much social pressure it is very difficult to do anything about it without coming across as The Grinch.
If there is anything in all of this I do not want; I do not want to be Scrooge in Jesus’ name.  I refuse to use my daughters as the objects of our social protest by holding them out of parties.  To do so would not be parenting with grace.  To send them to a party with nothing and tell them that because we love Jesus they must to sit out of the gift exchanges is not edifying to anyone, nor is it the gospel.  If I read the Gospels correctly, Jesus seems to be the sort of guy who would go to a party with a gift just so He could be with the people He sought to save.  Maybe that’s the answer, I don’t know.  Practically what can you do?  Are we to surrender Christmas to culture or are we to rage against the machine?  Where is the balance?  We are struggling not only to justify it, but even to afford it.
All I can say is that at this point, we are talking about it more.  As a family, I think we are sharing more of our struggles and we are seeking more definite ways to apply Scripture.  I hear the content of our prayers changing.  We are talking about moral balance, monetary budgets, and how to exercise grace and refrain from being judgmental.  We have fostered some good ideas on how to calculate not only waste, but ways we can meet the needs of others.  Things are changing, but there are still a lot of questions.
Where are you in your pursuit to “Recover Christmas?”  I am curious to know.  Please share your thoughts.      


Anonymous said…
Hey Brother Brian! I know exactly how you feel and I think you are definitely on the right track!! I don't believe God wants us to be a "scrooge" in Jesus name or shove Christianity down people's necks. I feel we are supposed to love them too Christ!! Same goes with our kiddo's...I don't feel God wants us to beat them to Christ, but to love them there. They have to see us living and loving through and for Christ first, in order to want to do it themselves. We can't say one thing and do another! I was just going to tell you a couple of things we did this year different to kind of put the focus back on Christ and giving. First, my brothers and sisters and I usually buy gifts for each others kids. Well, this year, I proposed that we use that money to buy presents for kids who were not going to get a Christmas through a local charity I know of. I just made the suggestion, prayed over it, and let God take it from there. They were all on board and we even let the kids help us with the shopping so they could understand what we were doing and why they would not be getting presents from each other this year. Also, for all the $5 and $10 gift exchanges, I took that as another opportunity to donate whatever was received on our end to a "toys for tots" type of thing. I just made the suggestion to the kids and told them that since it wasn't even a gift they had really asked for anyway, wouldn't that be a great opportunity to spread Christ love through a small gift. Another thing that is great for this time of year is a good closet/room cleaning. There are a ton of ministries that are excepting clothes and stuff for needy families and the items you donate go directly to the families, not to a "thrift store" where they are sold. (I personally like that better knowing that my items are actually going to needy people) I was actually able to clean out 10 garbage bags of unneeded clothes. When you really look in your closets at all you have and think about what you really is easy to clean it out :)) Or at least it was for me....we still have a bunch we don't need though. Maybe I will do it again after Christmas :)) Lastly, God kinda made it easy on us this year because Sammy and I are going through a financial dry season LOL... so we had no choice but to cut back. And since our kids need absolutely nothing...we told them to make a list and we would buy them three things, within reason, off their list from us/Santa and that would be it. We had the whole, "receiving everything you want for Christmas is not what it is all about", talk. I have spent a lot of time making things for other people out of stuff I had around the house and involving the kids in everything I can so it is still a very enjoyable holiday, but also trying to keep the focus on the true meaning. I hope this helps a little! Thank you so much for what amazing job you do at ministering God's word. Each sermon I find myself hoping you are not finished yet and wanting to hear more!! God is truly using you in my families life in more ways than I could explain!! Forever His, Michelle
Anonymous said…
brother brian, thank you for bringing this reminder about the true meaning of christmas to our attention. i plan to share this with all whom i come in contact with especially at my work place.
i see people everyday that have no idea what they want to give as a gift to someone. this message will help to solve that job may not allow me to be at every church service physically, however i will always be there in spirit. may god continue to bless and keep you and your family and our church family. thank you for your guidence in bringing the message to us in modern ways.

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