As Christmas fast approaches, you will see in some yards and on the back of some cars a sign or decal exhorting passerby to “Keep Christ in Christmas.”
If you don’t share my belief in Jesus Christ, I wish you a holiday filled with peace, joy, and love.
But for those of you who do, let us examine how we, as Christians, we can meet this challenge to keep Christ in Christmas.
No one will argue that this is not a busy time of year. There are literally hundreds of things to do. Whether is it decorating, cooking, shopping, or wrapping; attending parties, concerts, and parades, our calendars and lives get filled and cluttered. It is easy to lose sight of the reason for the season. It is much like the difference I have noticed in the night sky since I moved to Covington from Dunwoody. Away from all the light of Atlanta, there appears to be many more stars. Of course the number is the same, but the stars are not being drowned out as much by the light pollution around us.
One cannot stop all those catalogues from being mailed to us, or the procession of special sales. But we can be sure that there is time in our lives for the one who was born in Bethlehem and for family and friends. There is still time to get on track for this Christmas. Plan to attend a worship service on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Reach out to a family member or friend that you have not seen for a while; with a personal visit or a call, share some time with them. Your caring will be a true present to them. Give a gift to someone less fortunate. There are many agencies or churches you can do this through. Spend some quiet time each day seeking Jesus’ guidance, strength, and protection.
For there is another way you can read the message on those signs and decals: as a warning, a warning not to pack Christ’s message away with the Christmas decorations once the season is past. As you wrap up those little figures from the nativity scene, don’t push away the presence of Jesus in your life every day.
Many people, families, and groups will look for people to give gifts or food to at Christmas time. But when the trees are down and the season over, there are still many in need of a helping hand. When I served at a Church up in Hartwell, Georgia, every time I went into a certain drug store, the druggist would greet me, saying, “Preacher, if we run out of sick folks and sinners, we are both out of business.” I always responded, “I am not worried.” Don’t stop following Jesus in trying to help the least and the last. There are great agencies and churches in our communities with which you can volunteer to make a difference through their work. Let’s not allow the spirit of generosity to be limited to the Christmas season.
Many will go to a great deal of effort to make contact with family and friends. Why not use the eleven other months to reach out to others? Our friends and families are the most important people in our lives. Every day we can be with them is priceless. For some day it will be too late. Let us use the whole year to ensure we stay connected.
Many will make an effort to be at worship near Christmas and on Easter. So much so that we joke about “C.E. Christians.” We joke that some think there are always poinsettias and lilies in the church. The truth is we need to make it a habit to be faithful in our attendance. We don’t know what tomorrow holds but we who believe are convinced the God presides over our future. I challenge you to keep Christ in the Christmas Season but also to seek his presence at the beginning of every day. I repeat that this is a challenge not only for Christmas, but for every day, all year long. Let us keep what we have found at Christmas alive all year long. Let’s not limit Christ to Christmas.
Excuse me for perhaps sounding like a preacher, but it is hard to change after 50 years , and I pray for each of you the joy, the hope, the peace and the love of Christmas all year long.
B. Wiley Stephens is a retired United Methodist Minister and author who now resides in Covington