Have you heard discussion this year about "Christmas Spirit"? I would imagine that you probably have. It may have been someone asking the question, "How's your Christmas Spirit?". It may have been someone accusing someone, "You just don't have any Christmas Spirit!". Or you may have been bemoaning to a friend, "I just don't feel that Christmas Spirit". You may have seen pictures on Facebook and thought to yourself, "Wow! She really has a lot of Christmas Spirit".
Have you thought much about that phrase? What does it mean to have "Christmas Spirit"? I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately, and have even asked a few folks about this. I think there are different answers to the question, depending on your perspective.
If you do a search on the internet using the words Christmas Spirit, you might find that it could be any or all of the following:
- A Hallmark movie
- Essential Oils
- A collection of tree ornaments
- Something you want your children to learn to have which, according to the Wall Street Journal, is centered around being generous to those less fortunate than oneself.
- An album by Johnny Cash. Or Donna Summer. Or Richard Marx. Or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
- It is characterized, apparently, by a clean, well-decorated house; or a particular color; or feelings of love; or generosity; or kindness to strangers; or baking; or constructing gingerbread houses; or lovely trees and light displays; or Mannheim Steamroller or TransSiberian Orchestra music; or....or....or....and....and....and
It is an interesting study to look and see how our culture defines this.
What is the Christmas Spirit really?
Understanding the Christmas Spirit is requires that we understand WHO Christmas is about. Christmas is about Jesus. It is a celebration of His birth, which led to His work, His crucifixion, His resurrection, and His return to heaven. It is the anticipation of His glorious return.
Christmas Spirit is seen in the Advent candles; the candles of Hope, of Love, of Joy and of Peace.
Christmas Spirit is seen in the ending of the silent years. The years that ended with the sounds of a woman in labor and a baby's first cry.
Christmas Spirit is seen in Joseph's surrendering of his own personal desires for his new family in order to be the foster father for the Son of God.
Christmas Spirit is the hope that comes even in the darkest of times ~ a country living under Roman conquest where a king could murder every single little boy under the age of 2 in a particular city on a whim.
Christmas Spirit is the peace that comes from God when we surrender our own agenda and accept His agenda.
While I love the activities of Christmas and engage in them to the point Mr. Marvelous rolls his eyes, Christmas Spirit is not something that we can generate within ourselves through these activities, no matter how "good" they may be.
It may come through moments of silence. It may come through our tears of confession. It will come when we exchange our own perspective of what is important, in favor of God's perspective. It is built through careful attention to time spent reading the prophecies of the Old Testament and the fulfillment of the New Testament. It is strengthened and encouraged each day that we go to our Father in prayer, ask Him how He wants our day to play out, and obey His instructions. Sometimes He calls you to set aside a quiet life and be more active in His service. Sometimes He calls you to abandon the busy-ness and be a little more quiet with Him.
This next couple of weeks as we prepare for Christmas, may we focus more on our King. May we remember His first advent to a troubled world. May we be strengthened to do the work that must be done before He returns. And may our hearts be filled with the hope, the love, the joy and the peace of the Christmas Spirit.
His peace to your hearts and homes.