This year I have been putting together a program for my choir to present in my church on one of the Sunday’s in December. As I began to put things together, I realized that Christmas is a really big thing. From Thanksgiving, (or maybe from Halloween,) to the end of the year, the “Spirit of Christmas” is the biggest event of our lives. And it should be because we are celebrating the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the world. Christmas is first and foremost a religious season. Its a sacred event. But Christmas is so much more.
If you compartmentalize your life, and we all do, Christmas is also secular. And that’s not a bad thing. It can be, but it’s mostly a really good thing. There are a lot of secular activities that make Christmas the special season that it is. Christmas is not sacred or secular. It’s sacred and secular.
I know that when we come to church we are rightfully expecting a religious service. But since so much of what we do at Christmas is secular, and since those things are a big part of our lives, this year’s Christmas program is going to be sacred and secular.
What’s secular about Christmas? Christmas is also about families and friends gathering to celebrate together. It’s about celebrating the love we have for each other. It’s celebrating your baby’s first Christmas. It’s giving the perfect gift to someone you’ve loved your whole life. It’s making the long trips to bear hug loved ones we’ve been missing for a long time. It’s getting together for that traditional Christmas dinner. Ours is fried chicken. What’s yours?
A big part of Christmas is about just having fun together. Fun is a good thing, right? We decorate together, we sing together, shop together, and look at Christmas lights together. We watch our favorite Christmas shows, listen to Christmas music, dress up in our Christmas clothes and eat green and red M&M’s, and drink hot cocoa and eggnog. We take vacations, go to parties and enjoy just hanging out together. We worship together, we read the Christmas story together and no matter how many times we’ve done it, we wake up giddy with anticipation on the big day see what we got from Santa.
Finally, the Spirit of Christmas is also about recognizing the struggles of others and doing something to help. We give gifts to people who are alone and hurting. We give to support ministries all over the world. We give to take the message of the cross to those who’ve never heard the Christmas story. We cannot celebrate the birth of Jesus and not express our love for the beautiful people all over the world Jesus came to redeem.
The Spirit of Christmas invades our lives in December and reminds us of things in our lives we hold most dear. This year, I’d like for us to celebrate this spirit of love and joy. I’d like us to celebrate so when the program is finished, we’ll know what it is we have and hold dear together and be challenged to take that spirit with us everywhere we go. And not just in December, but throughout the year.