Friday, December 20, 2013

Confession of a Pastor: Quit Telling me What Xmas is Really About

We are all so well-intentioned, really we are. We're trying to help cut through the din of December freneticism by helping everyone know what Christmas is really about. We're tweeting it and Facebooking it like it's our job. I bet I've done it.

Christmas is really about:
a manger
Jesus coming to earth
a King
a new way to save the world
God with us
what else?

Christmas is about (see, here I go--I'm doing it too) everything. Christmas is about everything. I especially want you to know it's about everything if you wouldn't call yourself a Christ follower. Here's what I mean:

I think it's really great when someone who isn't into Jesus intentionally acts nicer in December just because it's Christmastime.

I think it's great that someone who doesn't know anything about Jesus intentionally interacts with her boss or employees in a more honoring way just because it's Christmastime.

I love it when people give up a great parking space on Dec. 23rd just to bless someone they don't know even though they may not believe that the Kid in the food trough would grow up to die for mankind's sin.

I love all these benign little things that a lot of us Christ followers would label as "missing the point." I love these simple to profound acts of kindness and good cheer because it's a heck of a great place to start. Most of us worked our way to Jesus. We didn't jump in with great theology. We clumsily came to know Jesus seemingly one (sometimes unknowing) step at a time. We loved "A Christmas Carol" even though Jesus wasn't in the credits, and we missed the parallelism of grace and redemption.

The truth is, people are nicer at Christmastime even if they don't know the perfect theological "why" behind their actions. People being more gracious at Christmastime is a testament to the Child that this holiday revolves around--even if the 33 year old version of the kid in the manger isn't on people's mind.

I didn't grow up in this faith. I didn't grow up knowing how this Kid in the nativity scene changed the world, or how He would later change mine.

But I tried to be better at Christmastime. Tried to be nice. Tried to be less selfish. I knew something magical was in the air even though I didn't know who the Holy Spirit was. I sang the carols and sometimes teared up knowing none of the biblical references or the "bad theology" of some of them.

And here's the really big thing: Jesus, the Kid, the Savior, the King, God with Us--He's working in and through everything. So even though I was clueless, when I was moving toward Christ-like behavior at Christmastime--the Holy Spirit watched and perhaps maybe even nudged my spirit in an affirming way--because He's in everything.

I do not believe that God only began to notice me once I got more serious about Him. I'm quite confident that I noticed Him because He was first noticing me--even though I was blindly unaware. He probably noticed that I was captivated with the Spirit of Christmas, even though to me, it was because it simply felt good, and warm. I didn't yet know that I was captivated by the Spirit of a God I couldn't see.

Why isn't the Bible a pamphlet? Why is it 66 books from very clear to very hard to understand? Because Jesus is moving in and through everything.

So what's Christmas really about? Everything ;-) Merry Christmas, friends.