Eight Ways to Ruin Christmas

Dec 22, 2008 by

CNN is running a story titled “Seven Ways to Ruin Christmas” that originally appeared on MyHomeIdeas.com. The story lists some of the things that can get in the way of enjoying Christmas. The list of seven things covers budgets, busy schedules, guests, shopping for gifts, who to give gifts to and other things that can sap the joy out of the Christmas season.

I have added an eighth way to ruin your Christmas and that is forgetting what Christmas is all about. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. While Christmas is also celebrated by many non-Christians as a secular, cultural festival oftentimes even Christians sometimes overlook the real significance of the holiday.

The best expression of the true meaning of Christmas comes from an unknown author. The story tells of Santa explaining to a parent how to teach the children the old meaning of Christmas. It goes like this.

Teach the children that the pure green color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round, representing the everlasting hope of mankind, all the needles point heavenward, making it a symbol of man’s thoughts turning toward heaven.

Teach the children that the star was the heavenly sign of promises long ago. God promised a Savior for the world, and the star was the sign of fulfillment of His promise.

Teach the children that the candle symbolizes that Christ is the light of the world, and when we see this great light we are reminded of Jesus who fills our lives with light.

Teach the children that the wreath symbolizes the real nature of love. Real love never ceases, like Gods love which has no beginning or end.

Teach the children that I, Santa Clause, symbolize the generosity and kindness we feel during the month of December.

Teach the children that the holly plant represents immortality. It represents the crown of thorns worn by our Savior. The red holly represents the blood shed by Him.

Santa then pulled a gift out of his bag and said. Teach the children that God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son. We thank God for His very special gift.

Teach the children that the wise men bowed before the Holy Baby and gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We should always give gifts in the same spirit of the wise men.

Santa then reached into his bag and pulled out a sugar cane and hung it on the tree. Teach the children that the sugar cane represents the shepherd’s crook. The crook on the staff helps to bring back lost sheep to the flock.

He  reached in again and pulled out an Angel. Teach the children that it was the angles that announced the glorious news of the Savior’s birth. The angels sang ‘Glory God in the highest, on earth peace and good will toward men.’

Santa then pulled a tinkling bell from his bag. Teach the children that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell, it should ring to guide us to God. The bell symbolizes guidance and return. It reminds us that we are all precious in the eyes of God.

Santa then said. Remember, teach the children the true meaning of Christmas and do not put me in the center, for I am but a humble servant of the One that is, and I bow down to worship Him, our Lord, our God.

So for everyone, Christian or non-Christian, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

nativity scene

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The Spirit of Advent

Dec 12, 2008 by

The word advent means “coming” or “arrival.” The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ. Advent is the beginning of the church year for most churches in the Western tradition. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day. Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, of longing. There is a yearning for deliverance from the evils of the world, first expressed by Israelite slaves in Egypt as they cried out from their bitter oppression. It is the cry of those who have experienced the tyranny of injustice in a world under the curse of sin, and yet who have hope of deliverance by a God who has heard the cries of oppressed slaves and brought deliverance.

One of my favorite Advent scripture readings is Luke 1:67-80

The dawn from on high will break upon us,

to give light to those who sit in darkness

and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Edmund H. Sears, a Unitarian parish minister and author is best know for his composition of the quintessentially Unitarian Christmas carol, “It Came upon the Midnight Clear.”  Some of the lyrics from that carol convey the essence of Advent and what it means to Christians.

For lo! the days are hastening on,

by prophet seen of old,

when with the ever-circling years

shall come the time foretold

when peace shall over all the earth

its ancient splendors fling,

and the whole world send back the song

which now the angles sing.

(Edmund H. Sears, 1849)

As a Christian, Advent and the birth of Jesus Christ are the most joyous occasions of the year. This is the time of the year when the spirit of the Lord is strongest in me. It is a time of great joy and rejoicing. It is the time when I am most optimistic about the world and mankind. Am I excited about the Christmas gifts that I will be opening Christmas Day? Yes. But that excitement is nothing compared to the joy and wonder that the birth of Jesus Christ fills me with. Now if we could just get a little snow on the ground before Christmas…..


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