For some reason this year I’ve been more than usually sensitive about the whining and gritching about how “they’ve” taken Christ out of Christmas—as if Christ could be taken out of Christmas by any person or entity outside of ourselves. No matter what anyone else did or said, and no matter how early “they” started, I felt Christ was totally in my Christmas; and I have no control—and no right to judge—whether Christ was in yours or anyone else’s Christmas.
What I don’t recall seeing or hearing from a single individual was how he or she kept Christ in Christmas.
Oh, there was this graphic that was shared several times on Facebook. I think it captured the spirit of the “Christ in Christmas” mantra.
But I’d be very interested to see and hear what some of my readers did to keep Christ in Christmas this year.
For many years we’ve kept an Advent Calendar in our home. There is a bare nativity scene, and below it are pockets for each day of Advent. Each day we take an item from the appropriate pocket and place it (using Velcro) on the Nativity scene.
Our youngest Granddaughter has always enjoyed being the one to put the items on the Nativity. This year she is living with us while her father is on the road, and Jo Lynn came up with the idea of adding an activity to each day’s pocket, along with a part of the Nativity.
There were things like baking cookies and taking them to a local fire station, making a trip specifically to put money in the Salvation Army kettle, writing Christmas letters to military personnel overseas, etc. Of course, there also were some at-home activities, too; but, the intention, in some tangible ways, was to instill in our granddaughter (and to reinforce in ourselves) the presence of Christ in Christmas. In all honesty, even that little bit sometimes seemed intrusive in our "busy" schedule.
In past years a lot has been written about the exodus from the church of Generations younger than the Baby Boomers. If the reasons given can be summarized in one sentence, it might be that they didn’t see the church living out what it taught. When they read the Bible they find a different gospel than the one they hear being preached and see being lived in the church. It kinda’ puts “literalism” at a different level.
Theologian, Walter Wink, begins the 9th chapter of his book, The Powers that Be, with these words:
“American culture is presently in the first stages of a spiritual renaissance. To the degree that this renaissance is Christian at all, it will be the human figure of Jesus that galvanizes hearts to belief and action, and not the Christ of the creeds or the Pauline doctrine of justification by grace through faith. And in the teachings of Jesus, the sayings on nonviolence and love of enemies will hold a central place. Not because they are more true than any others, but because they are crucial in the struggle to overcome domination without creating new forms of domination.”
The spirituality of younger generations is not nearly so much about what is believed as it is about how any belief is lived out.
Millennial Generation author, Christian Piatt, is gearing up for a personal journey, beginning in February, to keep Christ, not only in Christmas, but in all of life. Here is how he puts it:
“Being a Christian, by definition, means we endeavor to follow Jesus. But few, if any, of us does it, really. I mean all the way. As Shane Claiborne famously once said, Jesus ruined his life. Once he went all in on what he felt God was calling him to do, everything in his life – all he held dear and felt was important – got turned upside down.
“It happened all the time in the Gospels. The second someone decided to follow Jesus, BAM! life as they knew it was over.
“Who wants that? Who of us is really so invested in this idea of following Jesus that we’d set it all down and walk away if we had to? I don’t know about you, but the very idea of it is pretty terrifying.
“So I’m going to try and do it. With some ground rules, like I’m not going to abandon my family. But over the next 16-18 months, I want to be lot more intentional about what it means to follow Jesus. For real.”
I haven’t decided whether I have the courage or the energy to do it with him. I know how much I’ve really sucked at following Jesus in my past. I don’t mean I’ve sucked at believing and trusting and loving and admiring and worshipping him. But I’ve really sucked at really—REALLY—following him. And I know the truth of Piatt’s statement about the disciples and anyone else who decided to follow Jesus. “The second someone decided to fallow Jesus, BAM! life as they knew it was over.”
So, it’s that thing about the cinder in my neighbor’s eye and the log in my own; but, until I decide whether I’m willing to go all out, I’m going to keep my mouth shut about how anybody else keeps Christ in or out of Christmas, or any other part of life.
By the way, Christian Piatt is also my nephew.
That’s how I see it through the flawed glass that is my world view.
Together in the Walk,