Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Advent, Christmas and the Whole Holiday Enchilada

It will not surprise you that I consider myself to be in love with Jesus. Don't worry, my Hubby's okay with this! :o) He is too. But, it may surprise, shock or even anger you to know that my family does not celebrate Christmas. Phew! There, I said it. Even if there weren't so many pagan connections to Christmas (do a web search if you are unaware of this), I don't see much that glorifies God during this time. A lot of people consider my ideas legalistic, but truly I am not. I am saved by grace alone and I don't own the corner market on the truth. I get things wrong all the time. Daily. However, I feel I have a responsibility to act wisely when confronted by the Truth.

Mind you, I'm not a Grinch. There are many beautiful things about the season. When I was in the grocery store our city's opera was caroling - it was like being in Heaven. I treasure memories of decorating the tree with my Mom, watching for Santa while my Grandma Johnson held me to the window and opening presents with several family members that are now in Heaven. In spite of nativities, church services, giving for special needs and so on, there really is not much focus on Jesus. We find this sad. And why do people choose to think of the needy, homeless, poor and ill during one month when there are twelve on the calendar? I don't understand this.

In our lives...

Children happened.

The Holy Spirit happened.

We started listening and thinking and growing and changing.

As a new family we wanted to make traditions of our own while leaving a heritage of Truth to our children. It was unthinkable to lie to them, so we have always told them the truth about Jesus, about Christmas, about Santa, about God's plan for our lives.

Since the World encroaches around us and even in the Church (universal, not just mine specifically), we have chosen this time to explain the real reason that Christ was born. Without His miraculous birth (which was not likely December 25th), which fulfilled many Messianic prophesies and qualified Him to be the Lamb, unblemished and without spot, He could not have been the sacrifice to pay for our sins. Without His miraculous birth He could not have been resurrected to bring us new Life! (We don't celebrate Easter either, but that's another blog post.) The birth of Jesus was so Extraordinary, Magnificent, Spectacular and Miraculous that God created a star display that was so incredible, wise men could follow it on a long journey to find Him. Angelic choirs could not contain the bursting glory in their hearts as their proclamations rang out to Shepherds - the every day men that this Baby came to save.

So, this is the Good News we want to share with our children. We have chosen activities to make the season fun, but meaningful. Each year we are adding and changing things to find the right fit for our family. Some of our activities have nothing to do with His birth directly - like we go to our local zoo every Christmas Eve because they have a free day for families. We enjoy His Creation together. We still join family who celebrate Christmas and we don't thump them over the head with our Bibles! LOL Family is one of the nicest (though sometimes complicated) gifts God gave us. As the children grow older we hope to involve our whole family in serving others on Christmas Day. What better way to show that we love Him than to "do it for the least of these"? Already they are excited each year to do Operation Christmas Child boxes and deliver home baked goodies to the neighbors, none of whom know Him.

If you visit our home, you won't find a tree, but you may hear some music. There won't be mistletoe, but we'll give you a hug and a kiss (only if appropriate!). We're not excited for the arrival of Santa Claus, but we expectantly await Jesus' birth. There is great Joy in our hearts and we will share it, along with the cookies that most people would leave for Santa! :o)

Do our children miss Christmas? No, not really because they have never celebrated it. Initially it was difficult for me because building family is VERY important to me, but now I rarely look back. I have FREEDOM! I do not need to be Martha. My house doesn't have to be upturned and rearranged. I only shop if I *want* to. We don't have to worry about going into debt to buy presents. We can choose the invitations and activities that are meaningful and eliminate much of the unnecessary stress of the holidays. Wow, I can exhale.

I know 99.9% of you do not agree with me and that's okay. Only the Holy Spirit can convict you of the Truth and it's His voice you must follow, NOT mine. I'm not going to be ranting and raving about this all month, so don't worry! LOL But, as I looked around at all the seasonal lovelies in the blogosphere, I felt it would seem strange that mine would be comparatively empty. So, I'm trying to fill my emptiness with His Light. I always welcome comments even if they differ from mine, please just remember to be KIND! Thank you.

So, that brings me to Advent, which is not new to me but new to us as a family. We are also doing a Jesse Tree this year (minus the tree) using Ann Voskamp's ebook, also found here. There is a devotion for every day November 30-December 25, taking the story of Jesus from Creation all the way through. I really like how this teaches a continuity in God's plan, not just that Jesus was dropped into the middle of history without purpose or reason. I have always loved the story of Anna, the Prophetess in Luke, who was promised to see the Messiah before she died. Wow, she must have been an amazing woman, and think how excited she was when she discovered His birth! So, we are looking forward excitedly!

If you haven't found Ann's blog, A Holy Experience, please visit for a quiet respite during this busy time! Her post, Finding Christmas, really touched my heart and served as a great reminder about slowing down for the important things. I think that this post carried great reminders for Mommies who are often exhausted and weary because of all the things we think are important - but the little ones and little things often have eternal consequences. It always helps to gently be placed back into perspective. The photography on Ann's blog drew me in, but the writing kept me coming back. And if you are an educator, check out her book/ebook, A Child's Geography. It's great!

Thank you for joining me as I sort out my thoughts!

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