Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas: For Giving or Forgiving?

Why do most adults--even Christians-- feel more stressed out, lonely, and depressed during the Christmas season? (I include myself in this lineup.) Why is it that we don't "look" much different from our unbelieving neighbors during the holidays? Why does December seem to feel more like a wrecking ball covered in gold foil hanging over our heads than a gleaming star of joyful anticipation beckoning us to come hither and enjoy it fully?

I daresay it's because we are not really celebrating God Incarnate, the Greatest Forgiver ever.

Maybe, truth be told, we are remembering people we wish were still with us to make us happy, to see our accomplishments, to hold our children, to fulfill our longings.

Maybe we're trying to put a little "magic" or "wonder" or some other intangible delight into Christmas by stringing lights, making cookies, and singing about sleigh bells and mistletoe.

Maybe we are trying to make up for the way we mistreat our loved ones the rest of the year. As if we can atone for our sins against them by buying them things rather than saying, "I'm sorry, will you forgive me? I need your forgiveness, not your storebought or handmade present. And if you need my forgiveness for anything, you've got it. I forgive you." That's the kind of gift exchange I would love! I would rather know that I'm forgiven by God and everyone else than to open any paper-wrapped gift for the rest of my life.

To receive forgiveness, to know the slate's been wiped clean-- would that not make a person's Christmas the best ever, year after year ? Sure, we'd still our miss loved ones who have passed away or aren't with us. We're human. Sure, we could still enjoy the freedom we have in Christ to keep our special "worldly" traditions like putting up a tree, baking snickerdoodles, and admiring the light shows that December brings.

But if we Christians were to convert Christmas from a "giving" time to a forgiving time--purposefully making our list of people we needed to forgive and being unable to rest until we give that perfect gift of forgiveness-- what a way that would be to show that we understand why Jesus came to earth. I'm going to start today, the first of December, and see if by December 25th my heart has lifted from glum and weighed down, to free and light because of God Incarnate's gift of forgiveness.

1 comment:

Rachelle said...

This would preach! Wow. That IS really the bottom line. The purpose of Christmas is God's gift of forgiveness. Good words to live by and really think about.