I admit: I’m always giddy with relief when Christmas is over.
The reason for this is that every year, it becomes more painful and even embarrassing to witness the great, sad irony of Christmas: the effort we put forth trying to convince ourselves and the world that Jesus is the Reason for a season that overflows with greed, gluttony, materialism, and marketing. Our efforts would make far more sense if 1) the Lord had instituted the season in the first place, or 2) the Church refused to bend its knee to the gods of self-indulgence and consumerism and the many practices that fly in the face of all that Jesus exemplified.
I respect those who strive to claim the season for Jesus, yet I feel no urgency to do so personally because those who assert that its roots and traditions are steeped in paganism are, quite frankly, correct. Add to this the increasing demand for bigger and shinier and more expensive gifts; the propaganda of modern-day media and marketing; the stress and irresponsibility of credit card bills; the license to party and drink and eat far more than any other time of the year . . . and the end result is a cauldron of hedonism that the Church drinks from just as eagerly as does the world. The only difference between us and the world is that we simultaneously try to turn the spotlight onto Jesus . . . and then we wonder why the world thinks we’re goofy and why we’re as exhausted, broke, stressed, and overweight as everyone else come January.
Yes, there are things about the Christmas season that I enjoy, like the weekend trip that my husband and I make to Nashville in mid-December every year to do some shopping and carry out our own little traditions. I put up a tiny tree for the sake of the grandkids, and I love the happy chaos of a house full of family. But I am always thankful when the season is over for another year and we can all stop pretending that it’s about Jesus when the Church as a whole actually sold out long ago.
Please hear me: to teach our children about the birth of Christ the King at this time of year is a very good thing, but to teach them the same truths at all times and during all seasons is better. The danger of relegating a certain season (or two, if you count Easter) to the celebration of Jesus is that it’s too easy to excuse ourselves from focusing on what truly matters the rest of the year. The question of where to draw our boundaries as believers when it comes to Christmas is a tricky one with no easy or sweeping answers, but this one thing I know beyond any shadow of a doubt:
Jesus Is the Reason. Period.
Jesus is the reason for life, for existence, 365 days a year. He wants to be the constant object of our affections, the daily motivation behind our behavior, the ultimate purpose behind our career choices, the never-ending desire of our heart, the goal and prize for which we reach every day of our lives. We do not truly live unless we live and breathe and move in Him and for Him. Ultimately, nothing else matters. Perhaps that sounds too radical, but it’s the absolute truth, so I’ll say it again: Nothing else matters. He is the reason for all of it. Let’s keep this in mind as we take down our trees and tinsel, work off those extra five pounds, pay off our debts, and decide what 2015 should look like. As we set goals and enjoy the feeling of a second chance that a new year brings, let us ask the Savior to take His rightful place as King and Lord. Let us echo the song that says,
“Jesus, be the fire in my heart,
Be the wind in these sails,
Be the reason that I live.”