I sat on my couch staring ahead, literally angry. I was looking at our beautiful Christmas tree with sparkling ornaments and shimmering lights… and I was angry. I was angry because of grief. I was angry for being woken up at 2am when all I had wanted was a good night’s sleep. I was angry that everything I had looked forward to in the next few weeks had been taken over by other scheduled activities. I was angry that I had no time for the friends and family I truly longed to be with this Christmas season.
I usually end up here at Christmas time. It’s one of those seasons I long for simplicity, but complexity gradually takes over. I long for quiet, but there’s so much noise. I long for stillness, but there’s a never ending flow of bustling activity.
I hate the thought of disappointing my loved ones, but I don’t want to dance to the rhythm of the world’s drum…
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE TO WORSHIP JESUS DURING THE CHRISTMAS SEASON?
I believe that Christmas absolutely can honor God and still have lots of activity! I think worshipping Jesus and celebrating the time of his birth does include:
- loving and serving others.
- the generous act of giving.
- rejoicing, celebrating, and feasting!
I think the godliest of celebrations can include all of the above!
But here’s the tricky part… Most of these are also represented in the hubbub of our secular culture’s Christmas traditions.
The world goes about the activities of Christmas, but separate from the Gift Himself.
The Church must go about the activities of Christmas in Him, for it is in Him that we “live and move and have our being… For we are indeed his offspring.” (Acts 17:28, ESV).
Being loving and generous, serving and giving, rejoicing, celebrating, and feasting… All of these can be done both in Christ and outside of Christ! But they ought to look entirely different depending on which heart they’re flowing out of…
I am here. I am living on this earth, for better or worse! I want to be present with the people around me. I want to give generously this Christmas season. I want to be filled with joy and rejoicing, celebrate by feasting on special treats and delicious meals!
BUT I HAVE TO STAY CONNECTED. I am branch that has to remain in the Vine. I am a child of the Light, who must walk in the light as He is in the Light (Ephesians 5:8; 1 John 1:7).
And so, this requires a ceasing from activity, in order to maintain and lean into that connection.
For me, that means starting every day in the Word and pouring over my calendar saying, “Where would you have me go today, Father? What would you have me do today? How can I live and move and find my being in You today?” I can’t do everything, but I can do something. And I want that something to be of eternal value for the kingdom of heaven.
Of course we have responsibilities. Of course we have commitments. But there are A LOT of things we DON’T have to do. There are a lot of things we DON’T have to buy – even if it means disappointing the people we love sometimes.
The world goes about these things as depraved beings. As people living in the dark. As a people chasing after other gods… But I am not one of those. I am inherently different. I move to a different rhythm. I am a child of the living God with the gift of wisdom and understanding. Divine Life Himself dwells within me, shining the light of Christ into my heart. And so I operate according to the ways of divine Life, the kingdom of heaven, not according to the patterns of this world that lead to death and decay.
So, shouldn’t it look different? Shouldn’t celebrating the birth of Christ look different for those of us in whom Jesus Himself lives today?
ONE DAY AT A TIME.
I am taking this Christmas season one day at a time. I’m not running around buying gifts for everyone, spending money I don’t have, and trying to make it to every Christmas party.
I don’t belong to this world. I belong to God. And I want to do what pleases Him.
Sometimes this means, Go! Invest! Give! Celebrate! Demonstrate the love of God to a soul wrought with fear! Go and spread the Light of Christ in a dark and lonely world!
But sometimes it means, Cease from activity. Be still. Turn to and remain in Me. Listen to Me, and receive my Peace. Be present with Me, so you can be present with with my Light to those around you.
This Christmas, I am living one day at a time. My goal is to please Him. My ears long to hear His song, the one that moves to the sound of His heart and whispers through the winds of His Spirit.
At Christmas, we remember the baby. But He’s not a Baby anymore.
He is the LifeForce of our souls.
Remain in Him.
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5, NLT)
*Thank you to my mentor Carla Hayes for speaking some of these truths into my heart this morning :).