Thursday, December 7, 2017

Christmas Spirit

At this point, you might be thinking to yourself, "Well, bah humbug to you, too!" Because for the past few days, we've been looking at the ways that we've lost Christmas to our culture and how we might get it back. 

Not to be, you know, more difficult here, but if you're among the bah humbug crowd about now, then you're right there in step with another good point. Essentially, what we're saying when we say bah humbug is this, "Where is your Christmas spirit?" 

My Christmas Spirit is in the baby Jesus, God-made-flesh to bring the Spirit of God into this world. Where's yours?

Quietly, this has happened, and we've so easily bought into it that we don't even notice. The world has told us that there is such a thing as the Christmas spirit and that we're supposed to find it every year. It's up to us to bring it into the world by spreading joy and giving gifts and decorating our houses and remembering how much we love this time of year.

Except we don't. The statistic we keep coming back to this week is a recent study that shows that nearly 70% of American adults would skip gift-giving, the celebration of Christmas, this year if they could get their families to agree it. 

Talk about losing your Christmas spirit. 

But it's just not joyous any more; it's tedious. It's not a celebration; it's a chore. Every year, it's the same thing - Black Friday, boxes, bows, and burnout. Lather, rinse, repeat. Yawn. There's nothing new to keep the spark alive, nothing different to make it fresh. It's the same persons around the same tree having the same arguments and playing the same games and eating the same cookies and opening the same presents and running off to the same places. And we're supposed to get excited about this? Why, exactly?

Ah, yes. Christmas "spirit."

Turn this on its head just a little, or even on its side. Instead of asking again this year, "Where is your Christmas spirit?" ask instead where is the Spirit this Christmas? What is God doing? Where is God moving? What is it about a baby boy in a manger in Bethlehem that infuses Christmas with all the Spirit that it needs?

Because babies make Christmas better. They just do. The way their eyes light up with all the things that we've grown weary of so easily. The way they're more enthralled with the packaging than with the gift. The way they smile and laugh and giggle and coo and they don't understand a thing about it; there's just a spirit there that makes it...better. 

And that's the same spirit we find in the baby Jesus tucked away in a stable. It's the way His eyes light up with all that He sees that's new in the world...and in His eyes, we see it, too. It's the way He's wrapped in flesh - God made flesh for the first time in all of history, and we can't get over it. We don't understand, in swaddling clothes, the gift that lies inside, but just look at His tender human flesh. This hasn't happened before. This is incredible. It's the way that He smiles and laughs and giggles and coos like He doesn't understand a thing, although He understands it all. From the very depth of His soul, He knows what we can't even imagine, can't even fathom. And there, among the hay and the feed and the stench and the darkness, there's just a Spirit that makes it...better. 

Because this baby make Christmas...Christmas. He just does. 

So you want to know where the Christmas spirit is this year? It's in a manger in Bethlehem, just where it's always been. That's where God's heart has come beating into the world. It's where His Spirit rejoices. It's where His Son's eyes glisten with life and light. 

Bah humbug? Really?

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