Monday, December 11, 2017

What ARE We Celebrating?

"What are we celebrating?"

I ask this question over and over again to my daughters, to my preschoolers and teenagers at church AND to myself . . .

The struggle is real and the spiritual battle is on. . . . .

The weekend after Thanksgiving I watched a couple Christmas specials with my kiddos. Neither mentioned Jesus, but both were centered around the idea of celebrating something.

The first was a VERY familiar, "older' cartoon where a certain green goblin attempts to rob the town of their Christmas by stealing all the things the people would use to acknowledge the holiday. He even nabs the "roast-beast!"

The people, without all the trappings, still gather and sing proclaiming that the reason of their holiday can be found within as they stand "heart-to-heart and hand-in-hand." They celebrate the love they have for each other and the "higher" ideals beyond the gift giving and receiving. The Grinch is SO touched that his heart "grows," his crimes against the townspeople are forgotten, and he is given a position of honor as he carves the before mentioned roast beast.

The second "Christmas" cartoon special was this particular franchise's holiday premier. It had some funny moments, but overall, I was not too impressed. The plot consisted of one group of characters trying to invent a holiday for the other group of characters to celebrate. Most of their ideas were pretty frivolous and downright cheesy when the second group realizes that they should celebrate their friendship with the first group. What could be better to celebrate than good friends?

As a Christian, I sat there almost dumbfounded at how confused and blinded the world is. If they take Christ out of Christmas then the holiday celebrates friends or family or tradition or good deeds. Our culture talks of the Christmas spirit, but they mean anything but the Spirit of Christ. Since they don't know the true Spirit of Christmas, then how can they celebrate it?

So I began to think about how I celebrate the coming of the Christ child. Before too long, I began to feel convicted. If someone followed me around or, worse yet, could hear the dialogue within my mind, could they tell any significant difference in how I acknowledge the season than someone who doesn't profess Christ?

My to-do list is seemingly endless. My calendar overwhelmed. My mind fried from trying to remember who is supposed to be where bringing what with them when. Confused? Yeah, me too!

Here, we have the BEST reason ever to celebrate - God has come to live among His creation, but even the most faithful among us can get easily swept into all the festivities that we can become separated from what we were intending to commemorate in the first place.

Like a parent that becomes separated from her child in a large crowd, assuming that he was with her all along, she turns to find him missing but has no idea how long he's been gone. Despite my best efforts - including buying and reading a daily advent devotional along with planning ahead as much as I can- this mother's desperation to hold on to and find her child could pretty accurately describe me at some various points on any given day this December.

Should I make our celebrations more simple? Should I practice saying "no" over and over again? Should I delegate some responsibilities to others?

Yes, probably . . . but I don't want to disappoint anyone. What if I let someone down?

Then it dawned on me. This struggle is not merely an internal one, but I am in a very real spiritual battle. If Satan can hide the true reason we are celebrating among all the tinsel and all the trappings -of course he would. If he can conceal the real reasons Christ's birth was SO spectacular to even those who tout the slogan "Keep Christ in Christmas!," why wouldn't he? Like a "Where's Waldo?" illustration, even the "good" Christmas sentiments pale in comparison and others are revealed for the folly they contain.

I don't have any step-by-step advice or even practical tips for keeping the "main thing the main thing." Honestly, I don't think I can add any more to my plate right now. I am definitely not looking for a quick fix - but.... how do you remind yourself what you are celebrating?

This Christmas I am learning and leaning... I am learning to stop and be in awe of Christmas by trying to really look for Christ AND I am leaning on Christ to keep up with this frantic pace, trusting Him with the dawn of each new day to be in the details and provide like only He can.

I wanted to grow spiritually this holy season. I just never imagined the lessons that God would teach me would begin with two secular, animated, 30 minute shows on TV. I guess it just goes to show that God can use all this frivolous stuff to still point us to Him. . . Like Waldo on the page, we can still find and acknowledge exactly what we should be celebrating this Christmas.


Sara said...

Yes, Yes, Yes!!! I have often wondered and even posed the question on social media "if you don't believe in Christ and aren't celebrating His birth, what are you celebrating at Christmas?" You are right though. It isn't just the non-Christians, but the Christians too. I really think it is all a mess. I am with you, I don't have the answer to fix it, but something has got to give!

Tara said...

Thanks for commenting Sara! I do think that it is important for everyone to seek out their own motivations for celebrating. I think Satan must love Christmas for all the "wrong" reasons . . .