We just watched Illumination’s The Grinch with Benedict Cumberbatch voicing the Grinch. I love Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and we watch it every year, but it really hits home this year. Our church is going to do things a little differently this year and, Lord willing, we will be celebrating Christmas Eve outside by a roaring fire. But for many people our pausing our Sunday services is maddening. And I can understand, to a point. The thing we have to remember--like the Grinch learned--Christmas doesn’t come from a store (or a building). And “church” is not a building. The people are the Church, and Christmas is about Jesus and only Jesus. It is not about having a candlelight service or singing a certain song. Or even doing that same traditional thing we have done every single year for as long as we can remember. Maybe this year, we break it all down to the studs and truly realize what Christmas is all about. Truthfully Christmas isn’t even all about family. Shocking, I know. But Christmas honestly is about God coming to earth as a little baby because He loves us so much. So very, very much.
Think of the Creator of the universe learning how to eat solid foods or learning to use...pardon my frankness...the potty! How embarrassing. But He did it. All of it. All the gross, all the boring, all the plebeian things. FOR YOU. For me. Think about all of it for a minute, and it will blow your mind. Would you do any of those things for someone? You have all the power in the universe, and you give it up for these whiny beings you created out of dirt?! Jesus gave up all the power, all the comfort, for you.
Christmas is not about meeting together. It is about focusing on what God did for us to repair our broken relationship with Him. He loves us that much. Stop mourning what you “can’t do” this Christmas and thank God for all He has given you. This precious gift is not a trifle. It is not a neatly wrapped present under the tree. It is a messy, difficult challenge to love and be loved. It is a mission to REJOICE in every circumstance. Every. Single. One.
Put your focus on Christ and remember why we celebrate. Traditions can be fun and precious, but they don’t MATTER. Only God and His purpose for you to spread His Word and love matter. That’s it. How is God speaking to you right now? Are you listening? Sometimes our traditions get in the way of the things God wants us to focus on. Sometimes our traditions are supposed to focus our minds on God, and we have done them so often and so mindlessly, that we have forgotten the reason we do them. Become childlike again, and hear the story of Jesus’ birth with new ears and see it with new eyes.
As Steve reminded us on Sunday, Jesus’ focus was on the reason He came to earth. He chose God’s will and purpose over His own. If you are missing church, missing family, missing traditions, remember Mary and Joseph, far from their families, sitting in a smelly stable, still reveling in our Savior’s birth. And you revel. Rejoice! For God is with us. Gloria in excelsis Deo--Glory to God in the highest!