ADVENTURES, MISSIONS and RETREATS

Reaching and Teaching people about Jesus through Hunting, Fishing and Outdoor Adventures.

Month: December 2017

Making Sense of Christmas

I love the old comic strip Calvin and Hobbs.

Calvin is in an overstuffed chair, his back to the reader. The TV is bouncing wildly on the stand. Calvin is mesmerized. Calvin’s dad is behind him looking over his shoulder at the Television and Calvin says,

“OH LOOK, YET ANOTHER CHRISTMAS TV SPECIAL. HOW TOUCHING TO HAVE THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS BROUGHT TO US BY COLA, FAST FOOD, AND BEER CONGLOMERATES. WHO’D’ HAVE EVER GUESSED PRODUCT CONSUMPTION, POPULAR ENTERTAINMENT AND SPIRITUALITY WOULD MIX SO HARMONIOUSLY, IT’S A BEAUTIFUL WORLD, ALL RIGHT.”
After his dad leaves the room, Calvin, without ever looking up from the set says,

“DAD DOESN’T HANDLE THE SEASON’S STRESS VERY GRACEFULLY.”
Bill Watterson, the creator of the strip, made an excellent point. Consumerism, entertainment and spirituality really are odd companions.

In fact, when you back up and look at it with cool skepticism, the whole thing is . . .well sort of odd.

For example, why do we drag a dead tree into the house and hang gaudy things all over it? What in the world does that have to do with the birth of Christ?

Imagine a stranger from another land visits your house at Christmas. “Why are you doing that?” he asks. “We are celebrating Christ.” “Oh, who is that?” “He’s the son of God.” “I see,” he says, “your god is a tree.” “Well, no.” “Then he was born in a tree?” “Not exactly.” “Born in a forest?” “No,” you reply, “a stable.” Was it a forested country?” “Actually it was semi-desert.” By now he’s really confused, “So was it a wooden house?” “No, probably a sort of cave.” “Any trees in the stable?” “I seriously doubt it. Mostly cows sheep and goats.”

“So why the tree? Uh, . . . I don’t know.” For that matter, why the lights? Why are we climbing roofs, risking life and limb to string lights that don’t work? I don’t know. But it’s what we do.

And I’m not saying we shouldn’t. I love everything we do. I’m just concerned that the real purpose for the party is being lost in the celebration. Jesus is the reason for this season.

Without Christ Christmas doesn’t make sense.

Let me suggest two things that will help to keep the purpose in your Christmas preparations.

First, don’t allow the busy preparations to keep you from His quiet presence.

Second, in preparing for Christmas don’t allow your material passions to overshadow His spiritual purpose.

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Why Christmas?

Why Christmas?

I ask myself that every year. Why are we doing this? Guys are on roofs risking life and limb to string lights. People are stressed out and trying to find the perfect something for the person that needs nothing.

Folks that never give Christ or God a second thought pretend to celebrate His birth.

It all makes no sense.

How can this feeding frenzy of materialism that we call Christmas be connected to the birthday celebration of a man that was among the most non-materialistic personalities to walk this planet?

It has to be the most incongruous religious ceremony in history.
Don’t misunderstand. I’m all for Christmas.

I put up the lights and dress up the tree, and we shower each other with unnecessary presents. I love the celebration. I’m just not sure exactly why we do it.

One day it dawned on me that there are really two Christmases in Christmas.
One is a cherished American holiday tradition. The other is a Christian memorial to a sacred event.

The American holiday tradition is built around materialism and nostalgia.

Nostalgia will tell you that Christmas is here to bring us all together. We attach words and phrases to this holiday in hopes of manufacturing some sort of deeper significance. “Christmas,” we say, “means, ‘Peace on earth. Goodwill to men.’” But those are just words lifted from the shards of the original, echoes of the old true voice of Christmas.

As an American Holiday, Christmas doesn’t bring peace. In fact, it tends to bring more stress.

A recent survey revealed that 45% of Americans would like to skip Christmas altogether because of the financial stress it creates.

Pack an extended family into a house and you can’t even get “Goodwill to kin,” much less “Goodwill to men.”

And yet, here we are. Still doing it because Christmas is a Cherished American Holiday Tradition.

The second celebration is very different. This celebration is a Treasured Christian Sacred Memorial to a historical event we call “the incarnation.”

Christmas remembers that moment in time when God removed his majestic robes, stepped from his glorified position, and squeezed himself into the form of a human being.
With the American Holiday, we tend to find ourselves asking, “Why Christmas?”

But with the Christian Memorial, we are forced once again to remember, “Why Jesus?”

Those two questions seem similar but they are miles apart.
Why Christmas is a head-scratcher. Why do we keep doing this? We like to think its about peace on earth and stuff like that, but truthfully we seem to do it because we’ve always done it.

Why Jesus is less of a question than a statement. It calls us to remember that sacred moment when God put on skin and lived among us. What did that mean? What does it mean now?

Posted by Bill Dye

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