November 14, 2016

Celebrate Well!

The craze of ‘the holiday season’ is nearly upon us. And I must confess that, as a child of American culture, I really do prize it as ‘the most wonderful time of the year’! The unique traditions, the broccoli casserole, the time with family, the carols and hot chocolate – all of them make the five weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s loads of fun. Indeed, though I don’t usually buy all that much, I even enjoy maybe an hour stroll around the mall with giant nutcrackers situated here and there, and Kenny G’s Christmas album playing in the background. I can only imagine if I lived in Europe with its open air Christmas markets! And it’s all about to hit!

But when it hits, along with all the delights of the holidays will also come all the busyness, the added obligations, the mania, and maybe even our own inner humbugs – much of which can suck the life, not only out of the season, but of the soul. And the soul is too valuable to be run over (or treated merely as someone’s target demographic) for the final five weeks of the year! And, indeed, the opportunities of this season are too valuable to be lost in the shuffle and the mad rush. So, a few tips for celebrating well instead of wearily …

Schedule wisely. You don’t have to do everything, be everywhere, see absolutely everyone, and make every party. Rejoice, yes! Get out of the house, to be sure. Eat well! But make sure you temper your schedule so as to eat with, rejoice with, and get out of the house for those who really need it most, those who really need you most – your children, your spouse, your siblings and parents, your church family, your close friends, and “the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind” (Luke 14:12-14). Don’t get caught in a holiday rat race. Slow down enough to enjoy the people that God gives you this holiday season! Give your energy to moments, and not mania.

Give generously. Douglas Wilson has written marvelously about why it is a good thing indeed to lavishly celebrate the birth of Christ! “Use fudge and eggnog and wine and roast beef. Use presents and wrapping paper.” We are celebrating after all! And thus presents under the tree (within the bounds of sanity) are a good thing! And it is an especially good thing if we lavish such gifts on those who need them most – the poor, the outcast, the gospel-starved. That is why inviting someone on the fringes to your holiday feast, and shopping for Operation Christmas Child, and giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® are so fulfilling – because they allow us to celebrate and rejoice and give gifts … and do so, at the same time, with eternal purpose! So give generously over these final weeks of the year – to those near, who already celebrate Christ with you; and for the sake of those far, whom you long to see, someday, join you in the heavenly banquet hall.

Worship intentionally. Sometimes, like Martha (Luke 10:38-42), we can get so busy with all the preparations for the event that we forget why we’re having the event in the first place (or for whom)! So celebrate, yes! But don’t focus so much attention on the tinsel, and treats, and toys that you forget that there is a reason for all this merry-making! Pause, rather, amid all the pure fun … and turn your attention to the manger in Bethlehem, and to the God-man who lay there that He might live, die, and live again to “save His people from their sins.” Carve out time for real thanksgiving on Thanksgiving, and for the Christmas story on Christmas, and for caroling and praise throughout December, and for a family trip to a Christmas service (on Sunday this year!). This will feed your soul, and make all the delights of the body all the more meaningful and sweet.

Celebrating with you ...

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