Friday, December 21, 2012

Giving Up On the Perfect Christmas

Wow. It's been awhile since I posted anything. My how time flies. Of course the helidaze have started. You know - Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years. Pretty soon we'll be on to Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day and well, you know.

So I started out the Christmas season with my seemingly annual Bah Humbug attitude. Regular readers will remember my post last year about it. This attitude cropped up about 8 years ago, I think. I'm not really sure why. It probably has something to do with how much work goes in to getting everything ready for "The Holidays." As a mom, your to-do list is never ending. (as if it isn't long enough the rest of the year....)

So this year began like the past 8 years with me bemoaning all the commercialism, the decorations, the WORK.

And pretty much continued in that vein until last night.

I was watching NBC Nightly News as I always do. They featured a guy from somewhere (I looked for the link but it looks like there are only stories from Dec 19th. Not the 20th yet) who had started his own Christmas project. He and his wife started giving presents to those less fortunate. The next year, they got their friends involved. Then more friends began to help. Then more. Now they raise over $100,000 to buy food and gifts for the needy at Christmas!

Suddenly, it hit me!

Look at all the good things Christmas does. Look at all the needs that are met. All the wishes fulfilled. All the hopes and dreams that DO get to come true!

Is Christmas over-commercialized? Hell-to-the-YES. Does it focus on receiving instead of giving? You betcha. Does it cause people who can't afford mega gifts and elaborate Christmas displays to get depressed because they aren't able to "have Christmas" this year? Yeppers. Is that what God intended by sending His Son to earth? NO!

But Christmas does also bring out the good in people. People DO donate money and items to needy families. People DO help others. People who haven't warmed the back pew of a church in 6 months or more will suddenly come inside and see. They will hear the Good News. Yes, it would be nice if they'd come back in January. But you gotta start somewhere.

A couple of weeks ago, the Director of Lay Leadership and Missions at our church, Jody Farrell, published an article in our newsletter. Here is the part that really hit me,

 "Both church tradition and our American culture have created space for us to slow down and be reminded of the wonderful miracle of Christ coming into this world." 

The world gives us Christians so few things. Being a Christian in the world is hard. But at Christmas, the world actually GIVES US TIME to praise and worship our Saviour. How awesome is that? No other time during the year do we get that opportunity. Not even at Easter. 

When I thought of this newsletter article, and the NBC segment, I realized that while Christmas may not be "perfect" in my Pharisee-ical, "Christian" eyes, God still uses it. He takes the most imperfect of things, and uses it to HIS glory. 

Amazing Grace! How Sweet the Sound.
That saved a WRETCH like me!

We are all wretched, and what we try to give to God is wretched, too. But God still uses it. 

I may have given up on the "perfect" Christmas. But I haven't given up on God.