Christmas Whispers

As my daughter and I decorated our house for Christmas, my email inbox filled with messages urging me to take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. I looked at a few, deleted most, and wondered what happened to the Thanksgiving holiday. The day the U.S. designated as a time of thanks to God for our blessings was almost trampled by the shopping frenzy leading up to Christmas. Hearing the news reports of injured and pepper-sprayed shoppers made me glad I stayed away from the stores.

I looked around at the lights on my staircase, thinking of the Light of the world; at the tree with the blinking angel, announcing the birth of Jesus and at the nativity scene on the table, portraying the night of his birth. Christmas certainly isn’t about the rush to put gifts under the tree; it’s the celebration of the birth of our Savior.

Yes, I’ll do a little shopping, because I love giving gifts to my immediate family and a few close friends. I’ll be making Christmas cards and gifts for my bowling league, baking, singing and enjoying the lights and sounds of the season. But I’ll try and keep my focus on the reason for the season.

The problem is how to do it when all the voices around us are intent on getting us to focus on spending money we may not have on presents people don’t really need and will take back after Christmas. Focusing on Jesus is getting harder every year.

So how do we remember the reason for the season? One thing I’m doing is a reading plan of scriptures leading up to Jesus’ birth that includes comments and questions for contemplation. The other is to try not to get caught up in activities that have no bearing on the real meaning of Christmas. It’s difficult as the distractions of the season shout, while the Holy Spirit tends to whisper.

Jesus came into this world quietly, with no more fanfare than a silent star and no audience except a few smelly shepherds. The wise men didn’t show up until much later, even though they are always included in nativity sets. He grew up unknown and for the most part unremarkable, at least to outside eyes. When he began his ministry, those who knew him scoffed because he was that carpenter’s son – certainly no one to be worshiped.

Jesus goes about his business quietly today too. The Holy Spirit doesn’t shout at people, he works in the background, leading and guiding, giving support and comfort, loving us and then letting his love flow to others. The Holy Spirit is behind the scenes of Christmas too, even though materialism tries to drown out the message. We can keep Christ in Christmas if we can learn to shut out the hype and sales pitches and remember what it’s all about – the Creator becoming one of the created so the created could become one with the Creator.

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