And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Recently I mentioned to my mom that for some reason, I haven’t been able to really get into the Christmas spirit this December, and I’m not sure why. Maybe because I wasn’t around when my family decorated the house and the tree, maybe because I’ve been distracted by a whole host of other things going on.
But I just haven’t been in the festive Christmas mood as much as I normally am this time of year, despite the fact that I started listening to Christmas music back in the middle of November and have gotten all my Christmas shopping done. It just hasn’t felt completely like Christmas.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what that “Christmas mood” or “Christmas spirit” is defined as, but I think you all know what I mean. It’s something that can’t easily be put into words; a feeling that often involves excitement and goodwill and a sense of unity with those around you.
But thinking about that made me wonder: why does that Christmas spirit matter, and what causes it? And is that even an important thing to be focusing on during this season? Does it really even matter whether I’m in a “Christmas mood” or whether it “feels like” Christmas?
Well, that gave me another line of thought: What is the essence of Christmas? Is Christmas composed of brightly-lit trees or family get-togethers or festive aromas or Rudolph or “Silver Bells” or George Bailey or decorations or pumpkin pie?
Though all those things are enjoyable aspects of the season, they are not the essence of what Christmas is. And as a Christian, that’s something that I’m continually aware of and mentally assent to.
But are those the things that cause us to get into that Christmas spirit? Are those things the primary significance of the season to us?
Why is this season an exiting and festive time of year for us? Does the Christ of Christmas put any excitement or wonder or joy in our hearts, or is it really the music, food, and gifts that are the reasons for our happiness and celebrations?
You may be thinking that I’m being a bit harsh with all my questions, but I’m searching for the stark reality in this, and it’s every bit a challenge to myself as well as to anyone else who may be reading this. Questions like these make us stop and think more deeply on the meaning and reasons behind what we do. I’ve often found myself all too easily caught up into the fun and festivities and materialism of the season, unintentionally slipping into forgetfulness and ignorance of why we even have Christmas.
So, as I’m contemplating the reasons for my lack of Christmas spirit and searching to put it back into my heart full blast, the quiet voice of God gently reminds me of the true significance of the season, and I think, Maybe what I need to do is not focus on trying to feel the Christmas mood and and attempting to recover it through extra doses of Bing Crosby, gingerbread cookies, and Christmas shopping. Because those are all superficial layers of Christmas. Maybe I need to focus on the God behind it all, the Christ of Christmas, Emmanuel — God With Us.
Maybe I need to soak in the deeper meaning of what His incarnation truly is for me. How it has changed the world — changed my world — and is still changing it. How the God of the universe was miraculously born as the God-Man, and how the angels rejoiced to see their Lord and Master humbled to the level of humanity because they realized more deeply and fully how revolutionary it really was to the entire realm of existence, how significant a part it played in God’s plan of the ages.
Why did the angels rejoice? What was their reason for celebrating? I can tell you for sure that it wasn’t because God had just decided to throw a party for them in heaven with gifts and food and fun for everybody.
So maybe I should seek out the same source of merriment and excitement this season. Because if anybody knew what was real cause for joy, it was the angels. They knew what was really worth getting excited over.
I want to take the time this Christmas to ponder the significance of Jesus’ incarnation and get excited about what it means for me. And while I will enjoy the festivities and fun that comes with the season, I’m going to try to keep my focus on the Baby who grew into a man to be my Savior and Lord and bring salvation and hope to the whole world.
And I think a natural result of that will be to put a spirit of true joy and anticipation back into my heart. Not just a superficial and temporary happiness from earthly pleasures, but a genuine, never-ending joy that gives depth and light and purpose to life.
And that’s truly recapturing the Christmas spirit.
I want to invite you to join me in remembering the real reason for rejoicing and excitement this Christmas, and to let your joy overflow into the lives of everyone around you. Let’s recapture the true Christmas spirit!
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Photo credit for Featured Image: “Shepherds 25” by Waiting for the Word.