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Friday, December 2, 2016

12.2.16 // Expecting the Messiah: What Our Culture Has Done with Christmas

On your marks, get set, GO!!!

1.    Turn on the Christmas music… Check!
2.   Get a Peppermint Bark Latte… Check!
3.   Watch unending Christmas movies… Check!
4.   Buy special Christmas wrapping paper from kids’ school fundraisers… Check!
5.   Make an advent calendar… Check!
6.   Give some cash to the Salvation Army Santa… Check!
7.   Say, “Merry Christmas,” as you pass a stranger… Check!
8.   Be reminded that you should say, “Happy Holidays,” instead… Check!
9.   Take Christmas pictures for Christmas cards… Check!
10.  Order Christmas cards... Check!
11.   Mail Christmas cards… Check!
12.  Determine your Christmas budget… Check!
13.  Participate faithfully in “Elf on the Shelf” tradition (and be supermom with regard to creativity)… Check!
14.  Plan for teacher gifts… Check!
15.  Buy/make teacher gifts… Check!
16.  Help kids shop for their friends… Check!
17.  Send treats and gifts for your children’s classmates… Check!
18.  Pick kids up early from school on early dismissal days leading up to Christmas… Check!
19.  Take off of work to stay home with kids while they’re on winter break… Check!
20. Stress a little (or a lot)… Check!
21.  Make a Christmas list for everyone you need to buy for… Check!
22. Buy all of your Christmas gifts (Brave the mall or pay the extra shipping to shop online…) Check!
23. Maintain your Christmas budget… Check!
24. Wrap all of your presents… Check!
25. Mail gifts to out-of-town family and friends… Check!
26. Decide what to cook/bake for all Christmas celebrations… Check!
27. Cook/bake all of the items for which you’re responsible… Check!
28. Bring kids to Christmas play/musical practice… Check!
29. Attend kids’ Christmas plays/musicals/parties… Check!
30. Make sure everyone has new outfits for Christmas Day… Check!
31.  Attend special church services for Christmas… Check!
32. Maintain your Christmas budget… Check!
33. Stress a little more… Check!
34. Get Christmas decorations out of the attic… Check!
35. Buy a tree… Check!
36. Decorate tree… Check!
37. Don’t forget to water tree… Check!
38. Decorate the inside and outside of your house… Check!
39. Buy batteries for all of the kids’ new toys… Check!
40. Attend Christmas parties… Check!
41.  Split time evenly between all families…Check!
42. Cook Christmas breakfast and dinner… Check!
43. Etc. Etc. Etc… Check! Check! Check!
44. Rejoice in the birth of Christ…

Are you exhausted yet? I am! I was exhausted about 1/5 of the way through writing this list. And I’m sure this list does not encompass everything you feel you need to accomplish this Christmas season. But before you let the items on this list completely overwhelm you…

Slow down, friend! The Lord does not want to you to be worn out and stretched thin as you try to hold your Christmas plans, traditions, and responsibilities all together. #1-43 of this list are NOT and should NEVER be the focus of Christmas, but all too often, they become the primary focus because they seem to be pressing needs that HAVE to be done in order to meet all of the Christmas expectations. Our culture has made Christmas into something that the Lord never intended.

No, you do not have to buy $7 gift bags for every gift so that even the gift-wrap is picture perfect.

No, you don’t have to be the mom that gives $20 gift cards to every teacher.

No, you don’t have to one-up the moms on Pintrest in your Elf-on-the-shelf endeavors.

No, you don’t have to spend more money than you have just to keep up with what others are spending/doing.

And if you feel like you do need to successfully “check” off everything on the list above, you will be exhausted, overwhelmed, and in over your head. While there are necessary things that need to be done this Christmas season based on the way your family chooses to celebrate Christmas, don’t get bogged down in all of those secondary things.

As I ponder Christmas this year, I’m convicted of how my busyness and exhaustion will affect Riley Grace. Will she see me focus on gifts, parties, money, Santa, stress, etc. more than Christ? Will the genuine celebration of Christ be pushed aside for temporal and worldly celebration? Will the 5-minute reading of the Christmas story plus a few Christmas songs be all she hears of Jesus in the midst of new toys and Christmas treats? I truly hope not…BUT where will she learn the true meaning of Christmas?? From my husband and me! And if we’re focused on the wrong things, then that’s what she will learn. She will learn that Christmas is about gifts, parties, Santa, etc., and that it’s about Jesus for a few minutes on Christmas morning. That is not ok!

So, ALLLL that to say, focus on Christ! Be intentional about setting your mind on Him. Read John 1 and Colossians 3 and Philippians 2. Remind yourself of the depth of God’s love, Christ’s sacrifice, and our hope.  And with that fresh perspective and reminder, set your mind and heart this season on the wonder of a baby in a manger! The rest of the temporary things will pass away, but the reality of the 1st Christmas should be imprinted on our hearts and cause us to fall down in reverent worship!

Merry Christmas!


Always, Jacquelyn

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