"[The Shepherds and the Angels] And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:8-11
In the last three weeks, I have heard more people complain about celebrating Christmas then ever. I don't know if it's the not-so-good year of 2009 finally catching up to people or what, but so many friends, acquaintances, and random people as of late have been talking about "getting back to the reason for the season." In not such a... joyous way, I guess. I've been hearing things like people aren't buying gifts for anyone because they want to focus on the real meaning of Christmas, and I've seen people choose to not decorate because they just want to focus on Jesus instead of the... "trappings" of Christmas.
And that's all well and good, I suppose. I mean, if people need to step back and just spend time with God this Christmas, that's between them and God, but what I don't like is for someone to tell me that by me picking out a few gifts to give, that I'm caving to the world's pressure of what Christmas is. That it's not about the gifts or the decorations. And while even Mr. Grinch says that Christmas isn't about the presents and the lights and the strings. Well, I say that Christmas is ALL about gifts! Jesus was the greatest gift of all from the greatest Daddy of all to His children that He loves so dearly. What better way can we remind ourselves of the gift of Christmas than by sharing our love through the act of gift-giving.
And the decorations! You know, we were going to scale back on the decorations this year ourselves. We just ran out of time this year, actually, but then we started getting them out and putting them up, and we just kept on going. The thing is, every time I walk into my house I see Christmas everywhere, and it makes me smile. Every single decoration that is only up for a few weeks is part of the reminder OF the reason for the season. Every house on the street that is lit up with strings of lights is a reminder of the gift of Jesus. Even Santa is a reminder that giving gifts is one of the greatest acts of love a person can do.
The angel brought good news of great joy! How better can we honor and remember the greatest gift for all mankind than by CELEBRATING. By gathering with friends and family, and celebrating together the joy that is for all people! Christmas is not a time to be serious and solemn and withdrawn, it is a time for love- to give love and to receive love. We did a study on love languages once upon a time, and I find it amusing that the same people who agree that gift giving is a major love language, are the same people who say we shouldn't be giving so many gifts at Christmas time.
And maybe we're just in the minority. We've never bought a gift to give to someone because we had the mindset that "we have to give a gift". We give gifts because we love. Andy and I both had the same results from the love language study- gift giving was one of our top two languages for both of us. And so every single gift we give is something that we've purchased or made or thought of because we thought of the very person who the gift is for. The mere process of picking out a gift can also be a great opportunity to pray for someone too! As we think about the gifts we want to give, and maybe are looking for something for a specific person, that's a great opportunity to think of that person, and say a few prayers for them.
"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7
This verse is often used for offerings and tithes, but I think it's also very applicable here as well. God loves a cheerful giver- and we can give someone the smallest gift, but if it's given with a cheerful heart and with love, it can be as meaningful as the most expensive and important gifts.
I think the whole point of what I'm trying to say this morning is that while it seems that this year especially, so many people are saying that it's important to focus on the meaning of Christmas, that you can focus AND celebrate. I think that when God looks down at his children and sees them full of joy and happiness during the Christmas season, that He is just thrilled. How could He not? Think about a parent giving that one gift to their child that the child really wanted. If I gave THE gift to my child and they didn't jump up and down and express their joy, I think I'd be a disappointed parent. It's okay to jump up and down for joy for Christmas! It's okay to celebrate and make merry and give gifts! Jesus truly is the reason for the season- and He wants to celebrate with us!
Psalm 145:9 says that The Lord is good to all! Let's remember that and be joyous this Christmas season- and most importantly, let's SHARE that joy this Christmas. It seems that there are so many who could use it this year. Joy isn't the gifts and the celebrating and the merriness, but joy causes them all to happen anyway. Love and joy. That's what it's all about.