Looking for Jesus at Christmas

One Christmas morning tradition we have at the Carson house is searching for baby Jesus.  Over the years we’ve collected dozens of Nativity scenes.  Some miniature or of coal, or olive wood from Israel.  Some paper or ceramic.  Each Christmas morning, Jesus is taken from the manger of a half dozen of the scenes and hidden somewhere in the house.  The children must locate each Jesus before the festivities of Christmas morning can begin.  This tradition reminds me of the struggle of Christmas.  Where is Jesus to be found?  The church has long had a strained relationship with Christmas. According to Skye Jethani, in his book Divine Commodity, in 1855 New York City newspapers announced that Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches would not celebrate Christmas.  In the 1860s only 18 U.S. states recognized Christmas as a holiday.   When I was in Scotland for Christmas in the early 1980s the Scottish people remained reluctant to celebrate Christmas.  A 1931 survey by the New York Times reported that many believed “that Christmas could not survive if Christ were thrust into the background by materialism.”

We are years downstream from that survey today.  Materialism has won the day.  So, how can we keep Christ at the forefront?  The whole season must be a Jesus hunt.  This means talking about Jesus and his coming as a family.  Reading from the narratives of Jesus’ birth over the family dinner.  Focusing on serving others, especially the poor of your community. Daily thanking God for grace through Jesus helps.  Putting time into building spiritual community with others.  And, walking away from the unnecessary stuff in our lives.

After a hearing a sermon on materialism, one close friend recently came to me and said: “What would you think about not exchanging gifts this year?  Neither of us need anything that we do not buy as needed. Why not spend time together instead, perhaps dinner out?” I loved the suggestion, not just because it would save me the trouble of shopping.  It shows how much he values Christ and also his willingness to invest in friendship.  I was grateful.  What simple changes can you make to change the focus of this season and see Jesus?

2 responses to this post.

  1. At my workplace, they work very hard to make sure we’re celebrating “holidays” and nothing specific to one religion. OR, we’re celebrating every religion equally. I agree wholeheartedly that we should be talking about Jesus as a family, as friends, and I view my workplace’s vague “holiday” celebration as a clear time to talk about Christ.

    My favorite: I like to go to a computer at work and start the Charlie Brown Christmas special (available to watch for free at Hulu.com) . They read straight from the bible for the climax of the play.

    Thanks for the reminder of the season. You’ve inspired me to quote the Bible instead of a movie on my facebook page.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Sandy on January 8, 2017 at 2:45 am

    So timely, to read this every year……

    Reply

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