A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Reclaim Christmas - Don't Forget Jesus' Birthday!

You would think that since our church's Advent and Christmas focus this year is to reclaim Christmas that I would not have forgotten to include Jesus in our December birthday announcement at a church program last night.

The whole point of our reclaiming Christmas theme is to remember that Christmas is about Jesus' birthday and not about us. Disclaimer: This does not mean that people with December birthdays, especially December 24/25 birthdays should not celebrate their own birthdays. It just means that we should remember that Christmas is about the celebration of Jesus' birthday.

Last night's epic fail reminds me of how easy it can be for us, even those of us in the church, to not keep Jesus as the focus of the season. By keeping Jesus as the focus, this doesn't necessarily mean to sing Christmas carols 24/7. Reclaiming Christmas means that we always keep in mind why Jesus came in the first place.

God sent Jesus to redeem and renew the world and we are called to join in the fun! We are called to shine the light of Jesus into any darkness we may encounter in our day to day living. I think of the darkness of unemployment, the darkness of sickness and pain, the darkness of racism, the darkness of greed, the darkness of grief, the darkness of despair, etc.

This is why we hold those lighted candles and sing "Silent Night" on Christmas Eve. God invites each one of us to take the light of the nativity and shine it wherever we go.

Last night's epic fail of not remembering to include Jesus in our December birthdays reminds me that reclaiming Christmas is not always easy. The pull of our culture to make Christmas all about us surrounds us at every turn.

The good news is that God's invitation to reclaim Christmas also surrounds us at every turn. Should we buy gifts for each other this time of year? Sure! Should we indulge a little and eat Christmas cookies, peanut butter fudge, and other goodies that aren't good for us. Sure!

But let's not forget to shine the light of Christ in a world that is broken and hurting! Let's offer God's love to those in need. Let's be generous as we support mission projects throughout the world like "Imagine No Malaria." Let's not forget that Christmas is about Jesus' birthday. Let's remember to include Jesus in the list of December birthdays.

Let's reclaim Christmas!

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