Christmas in July (faithful)

I stood at the Starbucks counter last December, chatting with one of the friendly baristas. I asked about her Christmas plans, to which she responded that she doesn’t celebrate Christmas.

It’s too commercialized, she said.

It isn’t that she doesn’t believe in God’s heartbeat taking human form in Jesus, because she does.

It’s just that society has missed the point and made something holy into something for profit and that bothers her.

And it bothers her enough to opt out of Christmas.

It bothers me, too! But what if, instead of asking ourselves how we might dismiss the season altogether, there was a better question for followers of Jesus to ask:

How can we faithfully remember and rejoice in this God who entered our mess to engage us where we are? Our God who Himself didn’t opt out just because we were missing the point?

In preparation for the Christmas season, choose now to faithfully celebrate Jesus – not to lament the way others are missing the point.

Fix your focus on the arrival of the Christ child and take a different route to the manger this year.

Choose a theme for your gift giving and celebrations, and have some fun with it! Make people smile! There are far too many Grinches and Scrooges in the world already – let’s choose to bring glory to God!

Give a piece of yourself to your loved ones this year.

Give gifts that support a cause and multiply the blessing.

Put your creativity to work now – while there is still time to follow through.

Becoming a victim of the business of Christmas is not a given – it’s a choice.

Choose wisely, my friends!

Merry Christmas!

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Christmas in July! Celebrations… NOT Lamentations

MERRY CHRISTMAS - BERLINER MAUER 1980

MERRY CHRISTMAS – BERLINER MAUER 1980 (Photo credit: m.joedicke)

For as long as I can remember, I have found myself among circles of friends during the Christmas season, lamenting over how far we have strayed from a faithful celebration of the birth of Christ.

Materialism.

Entitlement.

The embarrassing-to-admit but altogether too familiar art of one-upmanship.

Obligation.

Panic-induced shopping.

And a steady stream of post-holiday thank you’s in the form of credit card bills.

This past Christmas, after partaking in many such conversations, I decided to be proactive in creating a Christmas of celebration for my family and friends rather than once again defaulting to the culture’s best effort at mass-producing joy that can only, really, come from meeting the Christ child Himself.

What struck me about this past year’s laments is how easily we have played into the hand of the mainstream, and how loudly we protest after the fact. Some of us need to be reminded – I need to be reminded! – that becoming a victim of the business of Christmas is a choice.

So this year, I choose a different route to the manger!

One that honors tradition without bowing the knee to retail-bullying.

One that embraces fun and giving without breaking the bank.

One that engages more of me than just my schedule and my pocketbook.

One that celebrates Jesus at every turn – telling the story of redemption and God-With-Us instead of another tedious narrative about how hard it is to find a gift for so-and-so and how another stressful holiday gathering might just be what pushes us over the edge.

You can expect Christmas in July posts to be short and practical. Ideas and snippets intended to plant the seeds of intentional celebration in your head and on your to-do list now… while there is still time left to see it through.

I hope you will engage and share your ideas with us as well! Use the comment option to add your own inspiration and encouragement for the rest of us. Together we can make Christmas 2013 a faith-filled celebration of God’s creative Presence here with us!