"Christmas By Any Other Name" 

     If there ever was a season when the Christian is tempted to place first things last and last things first, it is the modern Christmas season. It seems that we can hardly escape it.  Strangely, it is not the Christian community that reminds the world that the Christmas season is upon us. Rather it is the business world who reminds us, because they want to up their sales for the year.

     When I was growing up in the Bible Belt,  which is primarily the southern states, only hospitals were open on Sunday.  As our nation has become less Christian and more secularized, this all slowly changed. Now it is mostly the banks and government offices that are closed on Sunday. The pre-holiday world in which we are living is moving faster and faster. The very air we are breathing is charged with a spirit of nervousness. Our homes are becoming restless and kitchens are becoming crowded, heads are being crammed, hands are being given more work than they can handle. Gone are the days when Christmas was family time. I cherish memories of Christmases when families gathered for a time of relaxation and devotion in front of fireplaces and Christ was truly worshipped. Now we  don't sing about "over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house we go," rather it is over the Interstate and across town and through the shopping malls we go!!

     Our churches, our schools, our Sunday school activities, our programs, plans and parties -- all of them, if we do not get them properly subordinated, will so befuddle, so  be-muddle our thoughts and minds that when the festive days are over and the haze of hurried excitement has lifted, we will find ourselves not spiritually stronger but only physically weaker. We shall have succumbed to the triple X of a pagan Xmas -- the modern excesses of excitement, extravagance, and exhaustion!!

     This all brings to mind when Martha was so concerned about Mary that Jesus said, "- - - you are worried and troubled about many things; but one thing is needed . . ." Luke 10:41,42 - NKJV.  Let us resolve, as we plan to celebrate another Christmas, that no matter how many externals crowd in upon us, they must not crowd out the "one thing needed".  Let us determine to keep first things first. Let our souls bask in the starlight of Bethlehem, and our hearts fling wide their portals that the Christ Child may enter. Let us keep CHRIST in our Christmas, first, last, and always!

     If we keep our hearts thus focused, then our hope and joy will not fade and dim with the dying Christmas candles. Then we will have found the one thing needful in the blessed days which lie ahead, and the joys of Christmas will not be taken from us. From now until that Holy Night may our heartfelt prayer be that of Martin Luther's cradle song:


            Just a Thought Across The Garden Gate by Parson Don.




 Updated Dec 11, 2010 
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