Hopefully, you’ve gotten your Christmas shopping done and aren’t one of those people scrambling around at the last minute to get gifts for people either due to procrastination or forgetting someone.
If you’re like most people, you have forgotten someone, though. And it’s easy to do with all the hassle of hub-bub surrounding this season with parties, gift-shopping, and other extra events that fill up or take away from our regular activities. Unfortunately, this person many of us forget is the person whose birthday we celebrate: Jesus.
Unfortunately, this forgetfulness doesn’t just apply to the more secular minded among us. In 2005, some mega-churches cancelled services because Christmas fell on a Sunday. Sadly this was done deliberately. What surprised me is that, according to the article, apparently it is common in some Protestant churches not to celebrate Christmas in their local church. It’s one thing, as they note, when persons of a Puritan leaning don’t honor Christmas due to their faith rejecting celebrations of that sort, but to not celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior as a Christian community is just baffling to me. Since Jesus truly is the reason for the season, shouldn’t we show that as a community? (Thinking about the number of Protestant churches that are closed on Christmas makes me wonder if part of the reason Catholic parish attendance swells on Christmas is that Protestants have nowhere else to go. I wonder if the more liturgically oriented Protestants do have services on Christmas day while the more evangelical oriented do not.)
I can’t remember what we did when I was younger, but a tradition I would like to develop when I have children of my own would be to attend Mass as a family Christmas morning and only after returning (and possibly breakfast, depending on what my kids let me get away with) would we open presents. That’s to remind the kids that Christmas is about Jesus and further remind them that Jesus comes first. It’s His birthday and we should celebrate with Him. We should give Him first priority at all times, but most especially on His birthday.
And since it His birthday, we should get Him something. But what can we get for the “Man who [truly] has everything”? The only thing He wants: us. Christmas is a very appropriate time to recommit ourselves to Him, to examine our lives and see where we fall short of what we should be and give Him what should be His: us. As Isaac Watts wrote 300 years ago (this year!):
When I survey the wonderous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God,
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down,
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
When you think about all that He did for us, giving ourselves to Him really is a small price to pay. This Christmas, give Him that small a gift. He’ll appreciate it.