On the Scrooge to Santa scale I’m somewhere in the middle. Truth be told I’ve cheated to the Scrooge side more often than not. Reluctantly I ‘welcome’ the madness of the Holiday season that launches with Thanksgiving and culminates in a New Year accompanied by the ‘never again’ resolutions. As a Pastor I feel the responsibility to admonish my flock to enjoy the festivities without embracing the foolishness. As a Father I wage an inner war against materialism’s pull on my young children juxtaposed against a deep desire to catch that vicarious glimpse of wonder in their Christmas morning eyes. As a husband I regret the lack of resources to sufficiently bless my most treasured friend and partner.
As you can see, the holidays leave me a jumbled ball of confliction, contradiction, and confusion. See, we’re not all that different after all! So what’s the answer? ‘Keep Christ in Christmas’ and ‘Jesus is the Reason for the Season’ make great bumper stickers and pins, but seem to fall short in the Y.B.H. (Yea, But How) category. Not to mention the nefarious history of Christmas and the admittedly pagan roots of seemingly all of our ‘Holy’ days. Truth be told, I’m reluctant to place the melee of mistletoe madness on my Messiah’s initial advent.
See why the Scrooge side is so attractive? The answer, and yes Virginia there is an answer, is to keep Jesus at the center of every day and every season not just the thirty one days of December. The answer is to fully embrace the wonder of the season as a springboard to ponder the wonder of the Gospel. The answer is to travel back to Bethlehem and see the shadow of the cross and the coldness of the tomb in His natal crèche. The answer is to purposely take off the ‘Bible Glasses’ and experience the incarnation through the eyes of a frightened Judean teenage girl and her disgraced carpenter husband. To wonder over the universality of the Gospel as God sovereignly chooses to invite ‘the least of these’ to be the first to welcome and worship Emmanuel. Then to see that even kings are beckoned to bow before the KING of kings – The ‘Good News’ is for everyone from the bottom rung of the social ladder to the very top.
This Advent Season will find us doing just that; removing the Bible Glasses and the ‘Hallmark Christmas Card’ mentality and experiencing the sending of the Savior through the unfiltered eyes of those very characters who lived a very different Christmas than we can imagine. Don’t miss a Sunday of “Eyewitness Christmas” which will culminate on Christmas Eve with our ‘Carols by Candlelight’ service. May God give us new eyes to see and new hearts to savor His love expressed so lavishly through our Messiah.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Grace & Peace,
Paul J. Dziadul
Pastor, Lake Wildwood Baptist Church