Dear God, there are a lot of paradoxes in American life. One paradox is that the more we advance as a society in things like technology, economy, medicine, etc. the more we seem to regress emotionally. High depression rates. High rates of dissatisfaction. More anger.
This leads me to the paradox of Christmas. There are some who do not believe in you but want the (I’m having a hard time coming up with the word…) extravagance (I think that word works) that comes with the season. More spending. More partying. There’s even more giving. I think it is because we are looking for respite. We want respite from the slog of our year. We want to feel that adrenaline rush from giving or receiving a gift. We want to exhale and take a break. I think that is what is behind the current view of Christmas in American culture.
As Christians, we get caught up in this too. I had a Christmas party for our staff at work. We are in the middle of our biggest fundraising campaign of the year, so I am having to work as hard as I ever work this time of year. I spent some time this weekend thinking about presents for family and friends. I’ve also thought about where some of my wife’s and my year-end giving should go. I’ve thought about trips I want to take, and I’ve planned one for between Christmas and New Year’s Day. I’ve watched some Christmas movies like Die Hard and It’s a Wonderful Life. Notice there is not much there about you. Okay, there isn’t anything there about you. I’ve spent some time singing Christian Christmas carols/songs. I’m planning to attend and speak at a Christmas service this Wednesday, so I’ve been preparing for what I will say. I delivered toys for Toys for Tots and our Rotary club yesterday, but even that wasn’t about you.
Father, I’m going to a church service here in a little bit, and with that service, I want to fully immerse myself in your presence. I want to worship you. I want to be still and know you. I want to feel your Holy Spirit. I want to cultivate good soil in my heart that will give your seeds good space to grow and return a yield that is 10 or 100 times as much. I want to experience and be an instrument of your peace. Show me how to do all of this. Meet me where I am this morning.
In Jesus’s name I pray,