Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It isn't everyday that you get to put your hand in an octopus (pulpo) head. When you get to have one on each hand, it's just...well, weird! They kept wrapping their tentacles around my arm and creeping me out!
Christmas in our country is very different from others. We already know that we are significantly blessed. That point was made more clear on our recent trip.

As we traveled hundreds of miles through Peru, one thing we seldom saw were Christmas decorations of any sort. When we did, it was generally because an American corporate sponsor had erected them.
When we see each other here, we greet each other by saying, "Merry Christmas!" Well we used to...until it became politically incorrect to do so. Many cop out and say "Happy Holidays." That's nice too, I guess, but it lacks the Christ centered message.
In Peru, when we said "Feliz Navidad" to someone, they were genuinely surprised, and almost always thanked us with sincerity.

Christmas is not celebrated there like it is here. Gifts are generally given to children, but that seems to be it.
I had lunch with a missionary friend who serves in South Asia. His land is Muslim, but his longing for something that reminded him of Christmas was intense. We are so blessed with all we have at our disposal. We need to take better care of what we have been afforded.

I am the first to realize, that watching children open their gifts is such a joy! Their expressiveness is so incredible and honest. Selfishly, I still look forward to the adult version of it. I think I probably like the "giving" a bit more than the "getting," but I sure like the "getting," too.
Having said this, I think I could trade that pretty easily if we were able to focus on Jesus this time of the year, rather than the gifts.

I know people who don't exchange gifts, they just celebrate Christ. That is cool, but everyone looks at them like they have a disease or something. They are looked down on, even by their Christian peers.
Tradition is such a huge part of the season. The year my father died, we began a new one. We began (as a family) meeting each year at a camp (usually the one my brother operates). We all assemble that one time of the year. We gather together and live in a large cabin with a huge fireplace. We come together and decorate, bake, hike, go to movies, sled and many other things.

Honestly, as a family, this is as close as it we get to Acts 2:43 -48. We live together and have everything in common. We worship, we eat, we pray, and we share. It blesses us so much. It is very difficult to give this time up.

Too few of us know what it is like to live and dwell in the Awe of God, even though we are believers. We love Jesus, and we attend worship together, but we just don't understand how to dwell in His Awe!
The thing is, as long as we continue to focus on the commercial side of Christmas, we will not draw any closer to this understanding. I do not believe this is as He wants it.
I am not suggesting that we manufacture a scenario that seems to fit. We do, however, need to take steps to bring more focus on Christ at Christmas. Our family takes time to read the Christmas story. We often talk about our favorite memories from our gatherings. We attend services together.
There is more we can do. The awkward part is getting past the idea of doing it, and really engaging in making Him the focus.
It doesn't mean everyone will get along fabulously all of the time. It's hard to bring a family together and not have occasional squabbles. As a matter of fact, the more you try to focus on Christ, the more the enemy will try to bring discord. The thing is, with Him as the focus, you recognize your wrongs, confess them to each other, and move on...bringing Him glory!
Enjoy your traditions, build new ones that are Christ centered. Sometimes they come about by accident. That's okay! Celebrate them.
Last years accidental event will be somebodies favorite memory next year!
Just take time to celebrate Him as the King!


At 11:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Glad that you are okay and that God kept you safe on your flight home. Also glad that He provided wonderful people to take care of you when you needed it the most. We will pray for your complete recovery and that you get the rest that your body needs.

We love you!

Amy and Nate

At 3:42 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Definitely a great post. Hats off to you! The information that you have provided is very helpful


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