Whew! You made it through another hectic Christmas season filled with a myriad of activities that has left you exhausted and perhaps even a bit grumpy. You have shopped ’til you dropped (OK, that line is for the ladies). The presents are wrapped and under the tree, and the children are nestled in their beds with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads.
In a few hours, there will be a pile of trash and the children will have cast aside the expensive gift to play with the box the gift came in. Some will be disappointed and many gifts will be returned because they do not fit, and others will be re-gifted because they just weren’t right. For now, you lie in bed trying to get your heart and head to grasp the true meaning of Christmas.
If this sounds like you, I suggest that you will not be alone. It is our culture; it is the way we celebrate a great secular holiday. For the merchant, this holiday means the difference between another year of business and closing the door. We chaff that some will no longer say “Merry Christmas” at the cash register when you make a purchase, but “happy holiday” really does express the reality of this holiday as it has become in the American experience.
I propose it doesn’t have to be this way. To actually turn this secular holiday into the significant day of worship and praise that it was meant to be will require diligence. To actually celebrate the birth of the Savior on Christmas Day will make you a counter-cultural citizen, but I challenge you to do so.
Before ripping open the gifts, stop and read the simple story of the Christ Child. Take time to pray with your family and give thanks to God for His indescribable gift. Make worship at your church a priority, since Christmas Day is on Sunday. Let the turkey and dressing wait, and make your way to the church house to sing praises to the newborn King and listen to a Christ-honoring sermon. Let lunch be late, but don’t skip worship.
Because of the culture around us, to move through this time of year while ignoring the reason for the season is natural and expected. Christmas is no more than a sentimental journey for many of the American culture. Christmas is truly just a holiday for them. But to be so consumed with the stuff of the holiday and fail to enjoy, worship and celebrate the Savior makes those of us who know Him no better than the non-believers around us.
As for me and my house, I am not excited about the last holiday of the year, but I am fired up to celebrate the Christ Child born in a manger, destined for a cross and empty tomb. So, no “happy holidays” from my lips—I wish you a “Merry CHRISTmas!”
Anthony L. Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.