I think we can all agree that Christmas is overly commercialized. We know it should be less about the “stuff” and more about the “spirit” of the holiday. Most of can admit that keeping up with all the things we have to do, all the gifts we have to buy, and all the places we have to be often infers with rather than enhances our enjoyment of this time of year.
So, what’s the answer?
It’s easy to criticize how others celebrate...or don’t celebrate...at this time of year.
It’s easy to complaint about retail stores and secular holiday greetings.
It’s easy to moan about a less sacred view of the season.
It’s easy to rant relentlessly about putting “Christ back into Christmas,” pointing at what or who we perceive to the problem.
Some of us might worry that the message of Christmas is being lost in the frenzy of festivities. We know that Christmas is not the parties, the gifts, the ornaments or the tree. We're aware it’s not a single day on the calendar, or even a religious service at church.
But what can we do?
A few Sundays ago, during one of our Advent services at church, we sang the song O Little Town of Bethlehem.” The fourth verse (which rarely gets sung when we go a-caroling) is a prayer that calls on the “Child of Bethlehem” to “be born in us today.”
In Bethlehem, on that night so many years ago, the angels proclaimed a message of peace, joy and good will to all.
It was Good News of hope and love! Emmanuel. God with us.
Yes, that's the message of Christmas.
But we must not confine it to that one night, or isolate it to that one place. We mustn't limit the message to the Baby in the manger.
The message proclaimed at Jesus’ birth cannot...should not...be separated from the message of His life.
Jesus was genuinely concern for those in need.
He cared about the poor, the oppressed, and the brokenhearted.
He cared about widows and orphans.
He cared about the sick, the hungry and the homeless.
If we want want to restore meaning to Christmas, let us...each and all of us...heed the words of this song, and pray that Christ will be born in us today.
Our heart then becomes Bethlehem.
God with us becomes God in us.
Our lives become the message of peace, joy and good will.
We become the Christ in Christmas!