Discovering Spiritual Truths & Celebrating God's Grace in the Every Day Happenings of Life.
What’s your least favorite Christmas song? A couple of days ago, I read an article that listed the most despised Christmas songs. From “Santa Baby” to “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” to “Christmas with the Chipmunks,” the article listed the most hated and annoying music during this time of the year. What is yours? For me it is easily Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.” Hands down. No contest. Skip to the next carol. The piercing noise of this song blasts unwanted through my earholes. This song is cringeworthy for a number of reasons. For almost a month I had successfully managed to avoid this song. Until we went to Zoo Lights at the Turtleback Zoo this past Saturday night. Soon after we entered the gates, we heard that song begin to pollute the open airwaves. Once they started blaring that song (at least twice in the short time we were there) over the loudspeakers, there was no way to avoid it. I couldn’t change the channel. Not able to hit the “thumbs down” button. I couldn’t turn it off. I couldn’t plug my ears. There was no safe place, nowhere to hide from this holly-junky anthem. Before long, my daughter and I were delightfully (obnoxiously) singing along to our least favorite tune. Truth be told, we may have ruined that song for several of other of our fellow zoo-goers. What is yours? Whatever the yuletide song that you enjoy the least this time of the year, we can usually evade it before it gets too firmly stuck into our head. We can change the station. We can turn off the radio. Easily avoidable.
What’s your least favorite Christmas movie? There are several movies my family loves to watch this time of the year. It just wouldn’t feel like Christmas until we watch “Elf” or “Christmas Vacation” and, of course, “A Christmas Story.” But there are also a few stinkers; and they’re not always from the Hallmark Channel. Is there a movie or two that makes you quickly look for something else to watch? Whatever the yuletide movie you enjoy the least this time of the year, we can usually elude it. Power down. Turn the channel. Stream something else. Easily avoidable.
What about THE story at Christmas? It does not start with a “Once upon a time…” There is no wintery scenery, with snow falling down, as the opening credits begin to roll. Instead, we hear these familiar and timeless words: “For unto you is born this day…” Ah yes, these beautiful words from the Gospel of Luke. Of course, you have heard this story many times. You know how it goes—a census… a trip to Bethlehem… no room in the inn… shepherds in the fields… angels in the sky… But will you slow down this coming weekend to really listen and internalize the divine message of God’s gift for you? Will you gaze in awe and worship the miracle of that first Christmas from 2000 years ago?
This year, over 90% of ALL Americans plan to celebrate Christmas. This percentage is true for those that self-identify as religious and for those that have no religious affiliation at all. Even among those that identify with a religion other than Christianity, close to 80% plan to celebrate Christmas. Of course, and sadly, this is the secularized Santa-Claus version of Christmas. They have the gifts, the cookies, and the matching family pajamas. They watch the same Hallmark movies and listen to the same Rudolph and Frosty songs. But they lack the manger; there is no “good news of great joy.” Walking through my neighborhood, many families who have recently celebrated the Hindu festivals of Diwali, now display Christmas trees from their front windows. What gives? Talk about mixed messages or crossing signals. What happened to Jesus? In far too many homes, the very namesake for this holiday has become an afterthought. The truest and most pure message of CHRISTmas, the reason for the season, has become as easily and frequently avoidable as our least favorite songs and movies.
If you have an extra 2 minutes, check out this fun video. It’s clever and on point. Although I won’t be using it in worship this weekend, I still wanted to share it. Be intentional; don’t avoid the heart of this weekend’s celebration. It is far too easy to get overwhelmed in the family gatherings and office parties of this season. It is far too easy to become sidetracked and distracted that our Christmas festivities look no different than our secularized neighbors. So many of these things can make the Christmas season more than it is, but less than it should. Don’t replace baby Jesus this Christmas!
“Each of us is an innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus.” (original author unknown)
Pastor Steve Vera