December 8, 2013

The Spirit of Christmas

We are one week into December and it's all around us!  Twinkling lights, festive tunes in malls and coffee shops, lists of ingredients needed for baking, arrangements being made with family about who's spending what time where, parties and activities filling the weekends on the calendar, and white elephant gifts being pulled out of the dark corners of the attic are all shouting at us:


Well, grab yourself a cup of cheer (whatever that means) and pull up a chair, because I've got something to tell you.  That Christmas spirit, that may or may not be filling your heart?  It's not real.  I know, because I find myself trying to create an environment of cheer for myself, by constantly listening to Christmas music, making sure the lights are just so in my home, and lighting pine and cinnamon scented candles around the house.  But shucks if I don't still have to tend to routine duties - dishes, children, laundry, school, trash, diaper changes - which really dull the sparkle of the cheer.  And I can't tell you the number of times I have offended a family member or had a cruel thought in the last week.  Real cheer-wreckers, I tell ya!

Christmas spirit, you're nice (actually, I like you very, very much), but you're not enough!
What I need is the Spirit of Christmas.

Wait, isn't that just the same thing with different wording?  No, it is not.

The Spirit of Christmas is a person,

the third person of the Trinity, the one who came upon Mary and caused her to conceive Jesus, who was born to save His people from their sins.  The point, the purpose, and the power of Christmas lies with a baby in a manger, fulfilling the promise of Most High God, accomplished through the Spirit: the Spirit who helped Mary to believe the words of the angel, the Spirit who moved mysteriously in her womb, the Spirit who filled Christ as He lived and moved, taught and served on Earth, the Spirit who comes upon God's people NOW, when they put their trust in Jesus.

THAT is the Spirit of Christmas.

That Spirit can fill us up to endure hardship with faith and hope.  That Spirit can free us from the tyranny of sin and fill us with joy.  That Spirit can enable us to love my neighbor when all we want is to love our self.  That Spirit can change our  heart of stone into a heart of flesh.  Christmas spirit can't do these, but the Spirit of Christmas can!

I have been memorizing these verses from Titus 3.
3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
I've been impressed by Paul's repetition of Savior and saved while also thinking about the Christmas season.  Salvation is what Christmas is all about; Salvation is what we really need; and Salvation is accomplished by the Father, Son, and Spirit!

Spirit is very important at Christmas, not Christmas spirit, but rather the Holy Spirit.

Enjoy this holiday season!  Go to parties, decorate your tree, listen to the festive music, and eat too many cookies!  It is a very fun time of the year; I LOVE it!!  But through it all, let's worship the Spirit who caused Mary to conceive, who came upon Jesus, who fills our hearts and changes us, giving us the greatest gift we could ever ask for - but never would, so God got the ball rolling - SALVATION!

Merry Second Sunday in Advent!

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