Monday, December 10, 2012

Keeping Christ in Christmas

This is my article for Hoover First UMC December Newsletter:

Keeping Christ in Christmas

Christmas is not just a Christian holiday.  In fact, many persons who profess no faith at all will celebrate Christmas.  They will decorate their homes and put up Christmas trees.  Santa Claus will visit their homes, and they will exchange Christmas gifts.  Special Christmas treats will be baked and families will gather together.  People will do all of this, without entering a church building or without giving any thought to what the word "Christmas" means.  The word “Christmas” originated as a compound meaning “Christ’s Mass”.  Even the abbreviation, “Xmas” comes from the use of the initial letter chi (X) in Greek for “Christ”.
But, what about those of us who are in church every week?  With the rush to purchase gifts, bake goodies, decorate our homes and generally have a good time, we also can lose sight of the celebration of the birth of Jesus.
So, how do we keep Christ in Christmas?  In his book Christmas Is Not Your Birthday, Rev. Mike Slaughter writes,
“At Christmas, we celebrate a messiah, a deliverer, who was born to die.  So, we too are called to give ourselves sacrificially with Christ for the world that God loves.  More of him and less of us.  More for him and less for us.  Such sacrifice is paradoxial because the more of ourselves that we give away, the more abundant our faith and our contentment will be with what we have”. (P. 66)
How do we make Christmas more about Christ?
Here are a few suggestions for your celebrations of Christmas.
Consider donating to charity instead of exchanging gifts.   When someone asks you what you want for Christmas, give them the name of your favorite charity and ask them to make a gift in your honor. 
Consider giving the gift of time:   DO something together!  Plan a special time with family or friends:  baking together, visiting a museum, or even making a “craft” together.
Consider giving the gift of memories: Write down a story for each of your children/grandchildren/niece/nephew.  You might write about your favorite Christmas memory from when you were a child.  Or you could write about the day when the child was born or his/her first Christmas.
Consider sharing the story of Christmas together: Read the Christmas story aloud as part of your family celebration.
May your Christmas holiday season be filled with the Joy and Peace that comes only from celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace, Emmanuel, God with Us.

If you want another resource for Spending Less, Giving More by Reclaiming Christmas visit the Rethink Church website.

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