How do we focus on Jesus during the Christmas season? It would seem easy, right? After all, it is the birthday of Jesus. So focus on the birthday boy should come naturally. The truth is that the commercialization, the stress and pressures of a busy schedule, gift shopping, card mailing, house decorating, family gatherings, and cookie baking tend to hide the real meaning of Christmas from us.
It seems an impossible task to attempt to remove the commercialization of Christmas. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are going to exist as long a the retail industry exists (and we do want the retail industry to exist). Schedules don’t just become easier because the month of December arrives. In fact, our schedules get much more crowded with the Christmas activities. So how do we focus on Jesus during Christmas if we can’t change all the things that distract us from Him?
We change the thing we can change – us. We focus on Jesus during Christmas by changing our attitudes and motives for participating in all those Christmas activities. For example, Christmas is highly consumed by gifts. First there is the purchase of a gift for each family member. Then there is the attendance to all the family gathering to share those gifts. Many (maybe even most) have allowed our attitudes and motives for this gift giving to deteriorate over the years.
To prove this statement, take into consideration the white elephant gift swap game. Not sure why it is called white elephant, but it is a game where each participant brings a gift that anyone might end up with. In a round robin manner, each participant will open a gift or “steal” a gift from someone that has already opened a gift. In many cases (especially in groups that have played the white elephant game many times before), each participant ends up with the gift they brought. Why would this be? Because they purchased a gift for themselves. The attitude and motive in purchasing the gift and giving the gift during the game was selfishness. “I’m getting a gift that I want.” As the Apostle Paul wrote, I’m chief among such sinners.
Another example, the gift exchange within the immediate family. I’m willing to bet that most families organize this gift exchange exactly how my family does. A couple members of the family dig the gifts from beneath the Christmas tree and place them in piles around the room according to the recipient of the gift. Then each family member sits behind their pile of gifts in a selfish, hoarding manner. “These gifts are all mine” is the thought that permeates our minds. You know, those identification tags that we put on the outside of gifts also have a placeholder to write who the gift is from. What if we changed our attitude and motive in this gift exchange process to pile gifts according to who they are from. Then each participant is sitting behind their pile of gifts with an attitude of “this is what I’m giving”. Now each family member must physically leave their pile of gifts to present another family member with the gift that is being given.
Bottom line… How do we focus on Jesus during Christmas? We focus on giving. We take all the various activities that surround this very busy time of year and we intentionally focus them on giving. I’ve heard it said by many different individuals, so I can’t properly cite the original source, but it says “you are never more like Christ than when you are giving”.
How do you ensure that your family doesn’t get so caught up in the hustle & bustle of Christmas that you miss the real reason for the season? What activities or traditions to do you have that brings Jesus to the forefront of your Christmas? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below.