Wendy Duke is back with us today! I am so happy to have her join us here at Ask God Today where she is sharing her heart with you. We don’t want to miss what she has to say. When Wendy speaks…people listen!!
How Almost Missing Christmas Made Me Love Multi-colored Lights
by Wendy Duke|
I’ve always hated multi-colored Christmas lights. I can’t explain why, really. They just seem … juvenile, or maybe tacky, or just out-of-style. The snobby me would drive past a house lit up like a box of jelly beans and turn my nose up a little. How tacky. How unrefined.
But last December changed the way I look at Christmas.
My family spent the three months leading up to Christmas Eve in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, where celebrating the birth of Christ is just a novel American trend and carries as much spiritual meaning as Frosty the Snowman’s magic hat. But in December, the local mall started inexplicably playing instrumental holiday music over the PA system. One evening, as we climbed out of our tiny Asian car in the parking garage, all four of us stopped in our tracks and gasped when we heard the elevator version of “Deck the Halls” on the loudspeaker, and simultaneously broke out in Fa la la la la, la la la la while the Burmese security guards stood gaping. We had been so removed from Christ that we’d almost forgotten it was Christmas. Yet even in a country that scoffs at the idea of Jesus, the stores were decorated with gaudy baubles and sparkling tinsel, orange Christmas trees were scattered around the storefronts, and silver snowflakes hung from the ceiling–in a city that never drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. I was so jealous every time the Internet worked long enough for me to scan through Pinterest at all the hand-crafted wreaths and decorations people were hanging on their front doors that I had to abstain completely from browsing pins.
But we were so consumed with our upcoming basketball tournament, that, day-to-day, it was easy to forget it was Christmas.
I guess we do that here in America, too. We get so caught up in the mad dash to buy up all the items on The List, in attending the Christmas plays and programs, in making Pinterest-worthy snacks for the class party, in packaging prize-winning gifts and redesigning our entire living rooms around decorations and posing for Facebook pics of the reindeer on our mantels, that we forget to actually celebrate.
cel·e·brate ˈseləˌbrāt verb
- publicly acknowledge (a significant or happy day or event) with a social gathering or enjoyable activity. “They were celebrating their wedding anniversary at a restaurant”
- perform (a religious ceremony) publicly and duly, in particular officiate at (the Eucharist).
“He celebrated holy Communion”
I had to actually look this up to explain what I really mean by this, but I just feel like we’re leaving something out of Christmas. Something important is missing. We don’t really celebrate Christmas anymore — we conquer it, survive it, get it done, but we forget to celebrate. In October, people start saying, “Well, we can’t get together again ‘til the first of the year because everybody’s so busy in December…it’s too hectic.” Wait, what? We don’t have time to gather together and fellowship, celebrate with people we love because, … we have to get our tree out and hang lights the day after Thanksgiving? We’ve made Christmas a job. It’s like we plan a birthday party for Jesus, send out the invites, order all the food and decorate the house, but forget to invite the guest of honor. Maybe we even resent Him a little if He shows up with party tunes, because we have an agenda for this thing and now there’s one more mouth to feed and clean up after.
I’m not doing it anymore. I missed the celebration of Christmas last year because I was out of the country; I’m not going to miss it this year because I’m out of perspective. This year, I’m going to party. I’m going to throw up some multi-colored jelly bean lights all over the place instead of my very elegant, twinkling white lights that look like a page out of Southern Living because joy is not refined or elegant, nor do I think Jesus cares much about chic and “in good taste.” I’m going to play obnoxious Christmas carols really loud and sing them from the top of my lungs because Long lay the world in sin and error pining, ‘til HE APPEARED! AND THE SOUL FELT ITS WORTH!
Don’t we get it? We get to celebrate the New Testament Passover this December. The Jews — the ancestors of Jesus and adopted forefathers of our Christian faith — knew how to party. They shut down the whole city for celebrations of the Passover, of Queen Esther’s rescue of her people, the rebuilding of the temple, yearly pilgrimages to Jerusalem. They didn’t forget to celebrate, with singing and feasting and dancing, what God had done for them.
We could learn a lot from the Jewish people. Jesus left His throne and His royalty and the peace of the presence of the Father to come here and make Himself the Passover Lamb. He spared us the devastation of our own sin by covering us with His own blood. We’ve been spared. We’ve been chosen. We’ve been reconciled to our Father because Jesus became flesh and dwelt with us. Every gift I wrap has to be in honor of that. Every ornament I hang should remind me of His love on the Cross. And not in a morbid, somber way, but with joy, joy, JOY TO THE WORLD! THE LORD HAS COME!
So this Christmas, we’re celebrating with abandon. We’re inviting Jesus to His own party this time. We’re not going to worry about what the neighbors think or whether we get compliments on our gift wrap or how tacky the lights look. I want to imagine Jesus coming in to my house and looking around and saying, “All of this . . . it’s for me?” And we all pile on Him and hoist Him up on our shoulders and dance around singing, “For He’s a jolly good fellow…” or “Good Christian Men Rejoice” or just whatever bursts out of your happy heart because I think He’d just like to be invited to His own party for a change.
So how are you going to celebrate the Messiah’s arrival this year? What keeps you from celebrating?
Wendy’s website is called “Wendy Duke, All Over the Map” and you can check it out at: http://www.wendyduke.net
She is the Author of, Grace in the Middle
Wendy Duke lives with her husband and two children in South Carolina where they lead an international sports organization. When not traveling, Wendy is a Bible teacher, speaker, blogger, sports junkie and middle school chauffeur passionate about God and using the power of words to encourage people.
Don’t forget to show Wendy some love in the comments and tell us how you are going to celebrate the Messiah!
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