Seeking the True Christmas Spirit?

I think (actually I hope) we are all seeking to find the “true” Christmas spirit this time of year. As Christians we know Advent means more than just decorating our houses, baking cookies, getting a tree or even buying gifts for our loved ones. It means trying to “prepare the way of the Lord” or prepare our hearts for Jesus to be born again into our lives, to find a deeper, spiritual meaning.

But how do we do this despite the everyday trappings of the season? And by trappings, I don’t just mean the commercialization, but the stresses that might get added onto our overflowing plates around now…perhaps bad news we might receive about our health or a dire diagnosis regarding the health of a loved one, financial woes, struggling in relationships, the loss of something or someone dear to us…the list goes on.

I have experienced all of this at varying times and yet have sought (as I’m sure we all do) to stay in the “Christmas spirit” despite it all, attending church more often, praying harder, meditating more, trying to remain grateful and joyful, putting on a happy face if I have to. Still, trying helps but doesn’t seem enough. So I turned to the Bible for an answer…and found a simple line that jumped out at me: “’What should we do then?’ the crowd asked.” This was in response to John the Baptist preaching “prepare the way” which is what we Christians seek to do to get in the Christmas spirit. My question exactly! Luke tells us: “John answered, ‘Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.’ Even tax collectors came to be baptized. ‘Teacher,’ they asked, ‘what should we do?’ ‘Don’t collect any more than you are required to,’ he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, ‘And what should we do?’ He replied, ‘Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.’  The people were waiting expectantly…And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.” (Luke 3:10-18 NIV)

These seem like simple things although not exactly what we want to hear: “Share with the one who has none…don’t accuse…be content.” Why do I try to make it so much more complicated? That’s it then. No where does God say “get all stressed out,” or “feel sorry for yourself,” or “worry about others.” More importantly, I need to receive these simple answers with hope and joy, and to spread this “good news” with others – that it’s not hard after all to prepare the way and live in the Christmas spirit, because it lives in us…and the answers are in the Word (Bible) and shown to us by example in the Word Made Flesh (Jesus).
I pray that despite the stresses of this Advent season, we all will seek and find the true Christmas Spirit, turning to the Word for all of the answers.

Michele Chynoweth

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