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Seeking Things Above


If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Col 3:1)

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2008-07-26

How do you celebrate Christmas?



I ran across this video today and had to post it.

My wife and I talk about ways to celebrate the "true spirit of Christmas" each year.  We've often thought about cutting way back on the presents and focusing more on Jesus.  However, each year, our Christmas has more and more stuff.

We do focus on Jesus at Christmas.  We go to church on Christmas Eve.  This year I wrote a Christmas story, taking a quick bible tour from Genesis through the Gospels, and we read it as a family.  We visit a local assisted living center each year with one or two other families and sing Christmas carols to the elderly residents on Christmas morning.

However, with all of this, the presents steal the show.  Its not our kids fault.  They're kids.  If you load up the tree with presents, that's going to be the highlight of the day.  Christmas stories and carols to lonely, elderly strangers are ok, but the new Wii is the bomb.

I believe the problem we experience with Christmas is the problem with many churches today.  We preach and teach spiritual messages from the Bible but we mix in so much consumerism, that the spiritual message is forgotten behind the "church experience".

This Christmas, we're going to do something about the consumerism.  This Christmas, we're going to join the Advent Conspiracy.

What if we start a Worship Conspiracy and truly have Christmas all year long.  After all, this message is too good to celebrate only once a year.
Luke 2:10-11 (ESV)
10 And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.


13 comments:

Karen Zemek, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" said...

It sounds like you already do well at focusing on the true meaning of Christmas. The giving of gifts isn't just commercialism, but it's a way we show others how much we love and appreciate them. I think sometimes we as Christians can go overboard by thinking everything we do has to have a religious connotation at Christmas or we're not being "good Christians." Christmas is a celebration of Christ's birth and our traditions are certainly a part of that celebration.

It's also a time of giving to people and organizations that mean a lot to you throughout the year. There is great joy in giving! Hopefully, you are letting your children experience that too.

Tony said...

Karen - You're right, Christmas is a time for giving and my kids do love to give. However, by February, I already here about Christmas lists. I think I want to move my family to see Christmas as only about giving. Family gifts can be gifts of service and hand-made crafts. The cool "stuff" if we need it. can be limited to our own birthdays.

I guess my point is that I see too much "stuff" being sought and bought in the name of Christmas in my own house and all around me.

Grace and Peace.

Tony

chadholtz said...

Tony,

Thanks for sharing that challenging word. This is something Amy and I talk about every time the season rolls around and while we have cut back considerably we are not where we want to be. I really liked the alternative options this video presented - like giving relational gifts (spending time with someone at a nursing home, perhaps?) or redistributing the money we would have spent on toys and giving it to the "least of these."

Here at Duke Divinity they have a wonderful thing set up in November where you can buy alternative Christmas gifts for your family and friends. An example of a gift might be a certificate in your friend's name that says on their behalf a family in Africa was sponsored for one year of education. Or there are gifts that are hand crafted by people in poverty stricken countries who get a great gift themselves when you buy their carvings to give as gifts. These are just some examples of how we might still give gifts (like Karen suggests) yet do so in a responsible, charitable way.

Thanks again for sharing. Peace to you!
Chad

Tony said...

Chad - Thanks. I really like the idea of alternative gifts like the ones offered at Duke Divinity. My kids are still young and impressionable. I want their Christmas memories to be about serving.

Grace and Peace to you brother. Tony

Patricia Rockwell said...

When our kids were younger, our family did a name draw. All family names (from a fairly large extended family) were placed in a hat and each person drew ONE name. Then that person purchased a gift ONLY for the person whose name they drew. It saved every one a huge amount of money, but every one got a gift.

Larry and Jennifer Darnell said...

Tony,

Powerful video message there brother. I would like to make that impression on my younger children as well...after just dropping some large cash for their birthdays...I might need to extend the idea of serving to other holidays as well.

AZ Blogging said...

I think most parents know and they fully understand what christmas is and and how it should be celebrated. The problem is that the kids are so much nto Christmas as fun, so much that parents are scared of telling them the thruth since they don't want t hurt them. I don't really buy with the idea of cutting down on the gifts. What i see that is not really very right is the extravagabcy of parties, drinking, taking trips and so on...

carol said...

I couldn't get the sound to work on the video. We give presents at Christmas but our budget for each child runs about $150. Not much when you are shopping for gifts for teens.

Our church does several Christmas events we participate in. We go light hunting, have a family breakfast. Our Christmas Day is not about presents , although presents are part of the over all day.

The BoBo said...

Unfortunately, when I tried to view the video - it says it is no longer available.

Considering we have 6 children, you can imagine our Christmas is filled with lots of presents. We attend church regularly - but - on Christmas, other than attending Mass - we make sure we discuss the true meaning of Christmas with our children. We make sure they understand that it isn't just about the gifts or the commercialism associated with it nowadays.

My wife and I have often talked about taking the kids down and all volunteering at a soup kitchen or something of the like - but - we know our kids all too well. I don't think those who really need the help would appreciate receiving it from kids with frowns on their faces because they were forced in to "voluntary servitude" on Christmas day.

I'm sure the older kids don't exactly care about it right now - but - hopefully once they have their own families and as they get older - they will truly understand it's more than just Wii!

Tony said...

Thanks all for your comments. I've been out of touch this week at a preteen church camp. I'll post about some of that tomorrow with Scripture Thursday.

During bible time I talked to my three oldest about this.

Here's how my logic went (this was not a planned dialog, it just came up as we were reading the bible):

When we get invited to a friends birthday party, we don't buy each other gifts. We buy gifts for that friend.

All of the kids agreed with that logic.

I then asked why we buy presents for each other on Jesus' birthday. My children, often being much more spiritual than me, all shook their heads saying, "you're right dad. That does not make sense."

So I asked how we could give gifts to Jesus if he is in heaven and we're here? They weren't too sure. So I read to them Matthew 25:34-40.

Their eyes brightened and they "got it."

They started excitedly throwing out ideas how we could give gifts to the hungry and the poor rather than spend that money on ourselves.

Kids are awesome.

arlene said...

Everytime i see greetings that say "Merry Xmas" i get mad and i really correct the greeter because that is literally removing Christ from Christmas.

I just got reminded of this thru ur post.

Advance Merry Christmas! =)

chadholtz said...

Arlene,

Actually, while they may THINK they are removing Christ they are unwittingly proclaiming him. The "X" is the greek letter "Chi" that stands for "Christ." Early followers of Jesus used it and even today in seminary and such you will often see Christian abbreviated as "xian."

So next time you see someone write or say "Merry Xmas" you can smile knowing the truth they speak even though they do not know it...yet.

peace,
Chad

LORENZO said...

I have felt the same way for a long time. The difficulty for me is to sell the whole idea to my family members. They all agree, but can't shake the spirit of shopping. I am going to bring up an idea for helping a local charity. All the neices and nephews need to get involved. I'll let you know if we succeed. I linked you to my blog. Go visit and link me back...
http://crownedwithlaurels.blogspot.com/

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