Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

After an exhausting season leading up to today, I confess to being focused on what to get for the kids and how much I have left to wrap instead of what this holiday is about and who is it for.

It's funny how you look at Christmas when you're younger. I described the day with immutable traditions, like breakfast with the family, opening stockings with chocolate, the family slowly unwrapping gifts one at a time. These traditions don't look the same as they did 20 years ago, but then again - what does?

I want to start a new tradition for myself, maybe one to share with my own family later: prayer.

To my aunt, I pray for you to have renewed health and spirit. I pray that you let God change the way you love and live, and let Him give you the energy to be the change you want to see in yourself and the world.

To my cousin, I pray for wholeness for you. I want you to be balanced in what you do, and include time for you to take care of yourself as well as others. I admire your focus on the things and people that are important to you, but I pray that you balance that focus with perspective.

Mom, I pray for you to be just as indestructible as you pretend you are. I want you to stick around as long as I do; I want you to continue to be blessed with a body that is free of the ailments that seem to plague the rest of us. I pray that we can grow closer together again in this next year. I pray that you achieve everything and more you have set your mind to do.

To my sister, I pray for you everyday. I don't know what else to give you that will be as effective as an answered prayer. I pray that you grow into a Godly, independent, successful woman who realizes that she is strong and powerful and should not be timid.

To my stepfather, I pray your heart softens. I pray that 'gentle' would be a word to describe you in any context.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"Christmas is not your birthday!"

The church I've been attending since the end of the summer mentioned this line, which the pastor has apparently said more than once: "Christmas is not YOUR birthday!"

I love this Christmas-birthday line for a few reasons. We tend to fall into the trap of treating Christmas like an all-out shopping glut. Savvy marketers are constantly telling us about the latest deals and why we can't possibly live without them. They reinforce a message of materialism and the need for stuff. Don't get me wrong, I don't think you shouldn't go buy your 8-year-old a toy for Christmas. But in our politically-correct environment, we never hear the same intensity for the message of our salvation through Christ that we hear for the message of a door-buster deal at 3am at Wal-Mart.

It's not OUR birthday, it's HIS birthday. We celebrate the birth of Christ, and through Him the birth of our own hope, love, faith, and peace. So I guess in a way it is our birthday, because we received these gifts through Him, unearned and undeserving. We celebrate Christmas by giving gifts to ones we love, but I challenge you to rethink your definition of a gift, and challenge you to broaden the scope of those you love. I challenge you to do something for someone who you don't know, who maybe didn't earn anything from you this year, who maybe doesn't deserve anything this year.

Maybe that's why I like the Christmas Carol: a undeserving, harsh man receives grace and a second chance for Christmas. Really, aren't we all the Scrooge? Take your second chance this Christmas.