“Keeping” Christ in Christmas?

Do you feel like keeping Christ in Christmas is all up to you? And that you’re up against formidable adversaries?

I was up too early  this morning–again–my mind peppered with unfinished Christmas tasks. The thought of keeping Christ in Christmas feels like one more burden.

I probably shouldn’t have checked email right away. “Doorbusters!! Last chance to save big!!” “Top Ten Toys This Holiday Season!!” “Hurry! Final Hours for 50% off!!”

Delete. Delete. I already know I’m behind. The hype is not helpful. Then I see the blog post: Keep Christ in Christmas. Are you kidding?

I understand the sentiment, but frankly at this point it feels like the straw that breaks me. I feel like I’m holding an armful of packages and then someone hands me a fragile nativity scene, “Make sure you keep this one on top.”

Oh no. What happens if I drop it and it shatters?!

We Can’t Keep Him Out

Can you relate? Does the pressure of “keeping Christ in Christmas” make you feel like it’s all up to you? And that you’re up against formidable adversaries?

For years materialism and busyness have crowded him out, but these days aggressive legal action is being taken to push him out. A few years ago a town in Alabama was ordered by the city attorney to keep Christ out of their Christmas parade. Their response was both creative and effective.

But, honestly, is it all up to us? The truth is I can’t keep Christ out of Christmas. The Son of God was born that night in Bethlehem. It’s a fact of history. So is the life that followed his birth, the death that was recorded in Roman as well as Christian history, and the resurrection that was seen by hundreds of eye-witnesses.

He’s there. We can’t keep him out. And we actually don’t need to keep him in. Because when the pressures of Christmas bring our the worst in us, there he is–our Savior–right where we need him.

Not “Keeping,” But Finding

Now I’m as guilty as the next media-saturated-pinterest-following person of trying to plan and execute the perfect Christmas. It’s a lot of work, and each year it gets a little harder. Traditions multiply while my energy to implement them diminishes. And then things start to go wrong.

There was the year my husband lit fires in both fireplaces, turned on the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas album, and started the video camera rolling. But instead of recording our frolicking children opening stockings with wide-eyed joy, it showed us shouting and running around opening windows. The two fires created a perfect vacuum, filling the house with smoke.

Another year our dinner guests arrived two hours early. “It’s people,” our son remarked as he stood in his pajamas before the open door. I greeted them in my fuzzy pink robe and hospitably asked them to get lost for two hours.

Trying to be helpful one year, my dear husband started refinishing the kitchen floor while I was trying to baste the turkey. After I yelled at him, he wandered off to de-fragment the computer.

All these moments. Silly. Sad. Sinful. Messy. When things go wrong and I make them worse. These are the very times when Jesus pops up. He doesn’t politely avoid our Christmas disasters. He came—and we celebrate Christmas—because of all the disasters of our lives. Both the sin-caused ones and the ones that bring out the worst in us. Holiday parties included.

We don’t need to keep Christ in Christmas. We need to find him there, when our sins of the season expose our deep need and utter failure to save ourselves.

Find Christ, Find Joy

The gospel is good news and never more so than at Christmas. In the midst of the calls to do—Buy! Save! Hurry! Keep Christ!—comes the announcement of what has just been done.

“Fear not,
for behold I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.
For unto you
is born this day in the city of David,
a Savior,
who is Christ the Lord.”

Into the din of advertising hustle breaks one single command, the one we most need to hear: “Fear not!” We stop, stunned. Our relentless Christmas preparations pause for a moment. Fear not? Really? Yes, really. What am I supposed to do then? Behold. Behold? That’s it? Behold what? Shhhh, that’s what I’m trying to tell you…

What follows is simply the greatest news we could ever hear:

  • Great joy. Isn’t that what we all really want?
  • For all the people. All the people: those who want to keep Christ in Christmas and those who want to keep him out.
  • For unto you. For me? Really? The biggest package under the tree is for me?
  • A Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Only the Lord himself could pull off such a Christmas.

So stand down, dear sisters. The race for the perfect Christmas is off. The sorrows of a broken Christmas are comforted.

A Savior is born to you.

Find him when you fail, and when you succeed. When things go wrong and when they go right. When you solve the problems and when you cause them.

“There he is!” will be your shout of joy…and your shout will help others find him, too.


Next: The God Who Has Feet