There's a lot of chatter every year about keeping Christ in Christmas, getting back to the real meaning of Christmas, etc., which is all well and good if that means peace on Earth, good will towards men. But sometimes that call, to keep Christ in Christmas, sounds like Scrooge and the Grinch to me.
Every year we debate about how much we're going to spend, what type of gift exchange we're going to do, what each family is expecting, and how we're going to make it happen. There's griping about cleaning and wrapping and cooking and shopping and traveling. We fuss and fume about the ribbons and tags, packages, boxes, and bags. Grinchiness doesn't translate well into any kind of wish for joy to the world.
In one of Peter's letters, he encourages believers to, "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms."
Rather than talk about keeping Christ in Christmas, when I start slipping into complaining mode, I need to remind myself to keep Christ in me. The most important commandments laid out by Jesus were to love God and love one another. There are several ways we can carry out the command to love one another-- there's gift giving, spending quality time together, hugs and kisses, saying nice things to each other, and doing nice things for each other. Keeping Christ in Christmas means whatever we do, whether eating or drinking, gift giving, donating, serving food at a shelter, hosting a party, etc., that we do it as if it were God himself we were serving.
Sometimes family are the easiest group of people to get all up in a fuss about, mostly because they are stuck with us. It'd be great if we could learn to treat our loved ones as if they are really loved ones. Maybe we can extend the same grace and peace to the people who are stuck with us as we try to extend to those who don't know us any better.
I'm starting to get preachy ;) so before I go, I have one more verse that's been rattling around in my head the last few days. Ever wonder what Jesus has to say about gift-giving?
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:7-11)
May you be filled with the Holy Spirit, who makes it possible to have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control this Christmas.