The annual Christmas circus

The annual Christmas circus

I notice the same thing every Christmas: the people who do not trust in Jesus are the ones who get most excited about the decorations, the music, the craft, the food and the whole circus that comes around this time of year. Christmas is big business. People are wearing Christmas-themed T-shirts (which means Santa/elves/tinsel/green and red) and decorating their houses with enough external lights to confuse the birdlife. And ironically, it’s generally not the Christians who get so into the showy traditions, but those who don’t think there is a deep reason to the season. The festival of food, consumerism and family is all they believe they are celebrating.

In contrast, we have had a debate in our house whether to purchase a new Christmas tree to replace the one that wore out last season. It’s not something that is so important to our family, to be honest. It’s not the main reason for our seasonal celebration. In fact, going too big on the trappings around Christmas tends to distract us from thinking about Jesus.

Everyone needs something to celebrate, and in the absence of some deeper meaning to life, many take existing celebrations and ramp them up. Christmas and Easter become a big deal, Halloween is growing, Australia Day and ANZAC Day have religious-style commitment attached to them. It seems that people need deeper meaning and communal celebration, and in the absence of real substance they will settle for the show instead.

This gives us an opportunity and something to think about.

The opportunity is that often people have no idea what Christmas is really about and why they should care. This sounds like a negative thing, but it means that we can speak about why it matters to us. People do go to carols services and local churches this time of year; we need to show them why what we have is worth believing.

The thing to think about is how we celebrate the birth of Jesus. If we are Christians, it cannot be just presents and trees and food. These are nice but not Christian. How can we help ourselves and our families focus on Jesus? It might be through stripping back the showy traditions: maybe getting rid of gifts, simplifying the food, minimising the decorations. Or it could be through introducing elements that help us: advent calendars with Bible content or reading something like The Greatest Story by Kevin DeYoung as a family in the week of Christmas.

The Son of God came to earth for us. Everything else means less. Let’s make sure we don’t get the order of importance upside down.