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How Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

Jesus Juking the Jesus Jukers
This is what I’ve been thinking about recently. Christians seem to either embrace all of the cultural joys of Christmas and completely ignore the whole baby in a manger thing, or they want to throw out all the fun parts and walk around Jesus Juking the greeters at target for daring to say “Season’s Greetings!” Jesus is the reason for the season. Merry CHRISTmas!!

IF JESUS IS THE REASON for the season,
why are there no baby Jesus shaped cookies?
If we are celebrating the undeserved gift of salvation…
The FREE grace of God…
If we believe that no one is good enough…
No one can be good enough…
If the reason we celebrate Christmas is that jesus came to earth to live the life we couldn’t live, and to forgive us all our sin…
Then why do we say we have to be nice to get presents?
If we believe that mankind was sinful and fallen, THEREFORE God sent His only son to save us…

WHY WERE WE TOLD AS CHILDREN THAT:
You better watch out
You better not cry
better not pout
I’m telling you why
He’s making a list
and checking it twice
gonna find out who’s naughty and nice
He see’s you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
he know if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!

I know the song is talking about Santa Claus
and not Jesus, but I think most of us have the two confused

I’m not against Santa.
I love that he slapped Arius across the face at the council of Nicea for saying that Jesus Christ was not God in the flesh. I love that he freed a poor man’s daughter’s from human trafficking by throwing gold coins in the man’s window so he could buy his daughters back from slavery. It’s said that the coins landed in the socks that he had hung over the fireplace “with care” to dry.
I love Santa. I love what he stands for. Generosity. Justice. Helping children and the needy. New iPads and iPhones. Eggnog with Rum.

We always told our kids that it is fun to believe in Santa. It’s pretend. And it’s fun. (I don’t lie to my kids about anything)

I’m not against the commercialization of Christmas either.
I love that once a year everyone in the civilized world gathers around the central ideas of our faith. They sing about it. They feast about it. they discount the prices on everything from razor blades and toothpaste to video games in response to it.

I love the Christmas TV specials, too. Where elves and ghosts and reindeer conspire to put on morality plays that are played out in whimsical adventures, with talking snowmen, dentists and Christmas magic. It’s completely insane, but I love it.

Imagine an archeologist 2000 years from now explaining how we celebrated Christmas. We would sound nuts!

Documentary voice on the History Channel:
21st century western civilization celebrated a ritual called Christmas. To commemorate their belief that the Creator-God came to earth as a human child, they would cut down a small pine tree, putting it in their living room for one month, they would place secret offerings in brightly decorated boxes under the tree, they would eat candy out of their socks, and they would frighten their children with stories of demonic elves – in preparation for the night when an elderly man would throw himself into the fireplace.

This was the custom until after the first zombie apocalypse.

I love the OVER-commercialization of Christmas…
I love that the same people who don’t believe in Jesus, miracles or virgin births (or virginity), or the Bible, angels, or wise men, (or wisdom) – They sing about all these things with a straight face. Seriously, how can you not love that? That atheists sing songs like “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World.” They have to –  because as Steve Martin said, “Atheists Don’t Have No Songs.”

singing – “Joy to the world for no apparent reason.”

See here’s the thing…
I don’t mind that the pagans make their children earn their love.
That they tell them a little satanic elf is spying on them…
That Santa is keeping a list of their sins to judge them…
That they are going to get a lump of coal if they are not good!
I think it is absolutely proper that they make their kids earn Christmas with good grades, clean bedrooms, and their best behavior.
That’s how the world works.
The world without Jesus.
We get what we deserve. And nothing more. Then we die.

But it should be different for us…
for the people who actually believe in the original Christmas story.
Those of us who believe that God so loved the world that He gave His son, as an infant human baby, born to a virgin teenage girl, in a third world country, in a barn… That Angels, and shepherds, and pagan astrologers, and mysterious stars REALLY HAPPENED… That God wants to give us – not what we deserve – but what we need.
Grace. Forgiveness. Mercy.

We should embrace all of the joys of Christmas, but also have a deeper layer to to all.

Why Give Gifts?
We give each other gifts that are better than we deserve. We don’t attach the promise of gifts to the works of trying to be good… for goodness sake. We look forward to people giving us gifts because we admit that we don’t have everything we need. We might not need the ugly tie or the cheap perfume, but we do need the love of the people who gave them to us. We need people to give us gifts so that we can hold in our hands some tangible and real evidence of their love.

It is not the thought that counts. It is the gift. It always has been.
It is what the gifts represent. Our need for each other.

Celebrate Well
We Christians need to get better at celebrating Christmas. We need to stop Jesus Juking everyone for not celebrating exactly the way we want them to.

If they want to spell it with an X – great. X stands for Christ. We know that. Come on!

If they want to say “Happy Holiday” – cool. Holiday means Holy day. Smile and return the greeting with a little grace.

If they want to say “Happy Hanukkah” – be OK with that, too. Jesus didn’t celebrate Christmas, but he would have celebrated Hanukkah.

When we put mean spirited bumper stickers on our cars that say “Keep Christ in Christmas and Jesus is the reason for the season” we are kind of missing the point ourselves. The whole “Good will to men” thing.

When we return a cheerful “Seasons Greetings!” with a snarky “Merry Christmas!” with extra sauce on CHRISTmas. Are we really showing grace? Are we really wishing them merriment?

Make it Fun
So, We should hold on to all of the cultural fun of Christmas, and party with elves and reindeer. But, we should also have a deeper layer to to all. Remembering and celebrating a truly beautiful and mysterious truth: These things really happened.

May we feel the otherworldly delight of Christmas again.
May our celebrations reshape the dark void into a joy invisible.
And may we come to know Christmas as the very shape of happiness redeemed.

Merry Christmas, friends.