Reclaiming Christmas with Grace

Tinsel town?“Mine! Mine! Mine!” squawked the gulls in Finding Nemo.

“Mine! Mine! Mine!” I hear Christians cry as a marketing frenzy warps the Christmas message; as the god of our consumer society replaces the mystery of the Christ child with the clamour of the cash register, the jangle of canned carols and the lure of the sale.

“Christmas is mine,” we say as we seek to reclaim Christmas and redirect the celebrations from the Santa of the shopping malls to the child of Bethlehem.

The “spirit of Christmas” is spread liberally around, but the mystery of Christmas is lost in the clamour. I can understand the frustration of Christians who denounce it all, give up the fight and choose not to celebrate Christmas at all.

But is that really an option? Can we opt out of the celebration, of this time of remembering? Can we pretend it didn’t happen, as some do? They say 25 December was a pagan celebration anyway, so it’s not Christian to celebrate. But, whatever date we choose, sometime during the year we have to stop and recognise the incredible gift of our incarnate Immanuel–God with us.

All rushed outOthers just want peace and quiet, to be able to celebrate the coming of Jesus in meditation and prayer, without the requisite gift-buying frenzy. Ah, what bliss that would be.

But would we? Would we remember at all, if the rest of the world wasn’t involved? Unless we worship in a church that uses lectionary readings, the great festivals of the church generally pass us by. How many of us celebrate Epiphany, or even the Ascension? And Pentecost? My guess is that we only celebrate Pentecost because it falls on a Sunday.

I know it’s a mad rush, I know the world’s involvement raises expectations and anticipation of an entirely materialistic nature. I know that we are so rushed by the commercialisation of the season, that we have little time to think of the meaning. But on this day, shared with pagans, perhaps, but on this wonderful day, we invite the world to stop, to reflect, to notice Jesus amidst all the tinsel and the jangling and the food. On this day, we say to the world, it is all because of Jesus, because of the most wonderful gift of all. Most of the world won’t hear us, will ignore us, will miss the point. But did rejection ever stop Christians from pointing the way, or from celebrating the life and death and resurrection of Jesus? Did rejection and misunderstanding stop Jesus?

As someone put it:
“Nations have their red-letter days, their carnivals and festivals, but once in the year and only once, the whole world stands still to celebrate the advent of a life. Only Jesus of Nazareth claims this world-wide, undying remembrance. You cannot cut Christmas out of the Calendar, nor out of the heart of the world.” Anonymous(from CrossQuotes.org)

Accepting the full meaning of Christmas, beyond the tinsel and the carols, would mean a commitment that even we find difficult to give. Can we wonder that the world would rather trivialise this event than celebrate it.

Christmas CarolsSo let’s sing our Christmas carols, and let the world join in. Let’s worship together with those who never come to church at any other time. Let them have our seats and get the words wrong, and eat our mince pies, and even go away unchanged. Because grace is the gift that was given at Christmas, not “peace on earth.” The peace the angels sang about will come when we learn to share the grace we have received.

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10 Comments

Filed under Christmas, Grace and Law

10 responses to “Reclaiming Christmas with Grace

  1. Pingback: A Christ-Centered Christmas « childrenskingdom

  2. Pingback: It’s almost that time of year… | Opinionated Duck

  3. Caddo Veil

    WOW, this is brilliant! Thank you so much–the gift is “Grace”, and I will rejoice in it! God bless you and your family abundantly–Merry Christmas. love, sis Caddo

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  4. Lara W

    I’ve been wondering about this a lot recently. (Especially when it comes to presents) The world’s focus is on presents and festivity. But I realize that we as Christians should not focus on getting gifts and having a feast, it should be on the Son of God, Who came to Earth so that we could have a personal relationship with God, our slates wiped clean. That’s where our focus should be, and presents aren’t wrong…but putting all the focus on that surely isn’t right. After all, I believe presents should be a symbol of the awesome Gift God sent us more than 2000 years ago, right! And He didn’t come into this world like a King….but as a simple, humble baby in a manger. So I think don’t overdo it, keep it simple. And so keep the focus on Jesus Christ! Because the part I remember best and cherish the most of Christmas, is when my family comes together to read God’s Word and praise His Name.

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  5. “But on this day, shared with pagans, perhaps, but on this wonderful day, we invite the world to stop, to reflect, to notice Jesus amidst all the tinsel and the jangling and the food.”

    Yep! It’s up to we who are Christ followers to maintain the hospitable initiative and quit whining about the commercial gate-crashers!

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  6. Thank you! We’re getting closer to observing the condition of the universe within a few hundred thousand years of the Big Bang, God’s extraordinary and wild, raw moment of delight in creation. Christmas is as mammoth a moment for all creation as the Big Bang, but with the infinite gentleness and particularity of childbirth. To rejoice in it with that focus, as an annual reflection and receiving of the grace of the re-imagining of Creation (and our selves). Thank you.

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