Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Simplicity of Christmas

Last night I enjoyed a wonderful adaptation of “Scrooge” at my church. There was this one particular scene, Christmas morning, where all the people were gathered outside singing. Scrooge was finally seeing Christmas in a whole new light.

As I watched that scene, I thought about the simplicity of Christmas…or at least how it used to be. Today it has become so complicated.

People argue about whether or not Christmas is a religious holiday. Cities and towns disagree on what to call the tree—a “holiday” tree or a Christmas tree. Some businesses won’t allow their employers to say “Merry Christmas.”

We have lost the simplicity of Christmas. We have lost the simplicity of why we celebrate.

The story of Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus is not exactly a dynamic story. It is the simple story of a baby born in a manger. It takes just a few verses in the Bible to tell it.

I think the reason the story of his birth is so simple is because God never meant the “religious” life to be complicated. Even the story of his death on the cross is simple. Like his birth, it can be told in just a few words.

Just as Christmas was never meant to be complicated, neither is the Christian life. Yet we muddy it up with disagreements on things that we place importance on…yet really don’t matter in the long run.

Peace cannot be experienced in chaos and confusion. It is found in the simple pleasures of life. It is found in the simple, yet incredible message of a baby who came to this earth.

I don’t want to make Christmas any more complicated than it needs to be. I want to bask in the simple story of our Savior who humbly came to earth. So simple, yet so profound.

Photo by rightee on Flickr

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Life Doesn't Always Come in Neat Little Packages

With Thanksgiving now behind and Christmas ahead, I am thinking about packages. But it’s not Christmas packages I am thinking of. It’s more along the lines of how life doesn’t always come in neat little packages.

Ever receive a gift you didn’t really like? Some of us are better at hiding our disappointment than others. I always tell my children that even if they don’t like something they receive, they should still show their appreciation.

But that’s hard. I mean, here you are looking at this mysterious packaging, trying to imagine what is inside. It may be wrapped in the prettiest paper or tied up in a beautiful bow. Surely it must be just what you wanted.

After carefully unwrapping it (or maybe you are the type who just rips right into it), your eyes just moments ago that were bright with excitement suddenly dim. Your shoulders droop, disappointment oozes out.

This is how life can be sometimes. It brings packages that aren’t always wanted. It can look good on the outside but once you begin to unravel it, well, you would rather wrap it back up and give it to someone else (White Elephant gift anyone?).

James 1:17 tells us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…”

Sure, some packages aren’t as exciting or desirable as other ones. But we have to remember that what God allows in our lives, is sifted through His hands.

Therefore we have to learn to appreciate even those packages that we don’t expect or think we want. It may not be until later that you realize the full value of the gift.

That’s just how life works…it doesn’t always come in neat little packages.

Photo by remind in stock.xchng