Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Christmas Spirit

Our Christmas tree... and littlest angel in germ-free times
It’s Christmas Eve in our home, and all is quiet.

Not because we’re waiting for Santa Claus, but because our older children are spending the holidays with their mother and my babies are sidelined with fevers and congestion. They spent most of the past two days coughing and cradled in my bed. Though I miss the noise and naughtiness their normal activities create, Mommy has had plenty of time to write and relax.

Hello, silver lining.

But it is Christmas Eve, and as I’ve spent the past few weeks inundated with holiday commercials and the like, one phrase keeps grabbing my attention.

“The Christmas Spirit.”

People speak of this magical intangible, this unknown mystique promoting an overall feeling of kindness and empathy among strangers. It compels the stoic to join mall carolers in song and the cranky shopper to surrender her position in line to the elderly or overwrought mother wrangling her rowdy children.

(I’m not sure how it affects those who steal lawn ornaments and fight over the last pair of Jordans, but that’s not the subject of this blog entry.)

I like this notion of The Christmas Spirit in theory, the idea that at a certain time of year, the world turns its plowshares into swords and pauses for a moment to appreciate the simple splendor of life. Tis a comforting thought, one that warms my heart like so many cups of warm cocoa.

But a larger part of me cannot help but detect a fraud, to regard this counterfeit with a stern side-eye. And the more I hear the phrase, the more aggravated I become, eliciting a hearty "Bah humbug!" from the depth of my soul.

You see, this connection between Christmas and widespread peace is nothing new. It is not the product of sparkly lights in storefront windows or the brain child of a jolly bearded man in a red suit.

Those things are not bad in and of themselves. But I cannot give them credit for the work of Someone Else, the same Someone Else who created this world we remember to remember amid our busyness with gingerbread houses and pretty trays of holiday sweets.

The Christmas Spirit is God’s design, His plan. It is rooted in and created by the very words the angels shared with the shepherds in Luke chapter 2…

... or as my son Jonan calls them, “the words that Linus said.”

Image Courtesy of dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord…
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

(Luke 2:10, 11, 13, and 14)

Jesus’ birth signaled to the world God’s peace offering, his desire for and means to reconciliation with mankind through the man-king’s eventual death and resurrection. As the familiar carol goes, “Peace on earth and mercy mild / God and sinners reconciled.”

This is the original Christmas spirit, the inspiration for all glad tidings we call ourselves claiming now. This, unbeknownst to most, is what lingers in the air this time of year, the reminder that despite the atrocities and sadness plaguing our world, God is not mad at us. In fact, He sent His son as the ultimate Peace Offering to the world, an eternal sign of his grace and forgiveness.

And while I do appreciate how the world’s attitude softens and warms every year around this time, I much more appreciate the original spirit of Agape Love which began it all.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

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