We have twenty-five days until Christmas, people. Twenty-five! Man, is there a lot to do.
First off, there’s shopping. This used to be a Christmas-Eve-at-the-mall affair for me, but no more. With children and in-laws and in-laws with children, Christmas shopping means making a list, checking it twice for budgetary possibility, and then dividing up the shopping responsibilities so that we might conquer it. An Excel spreadsheet is involved. We need to get on this.
Next comes the decorations in two waves: indoor and outdoor. They are both equally challenging and involve making an incredible mess as we pull the supplies out of storage and vomit them all over our downstairs basement. Then we have to rearrange furniture to accommodate a small tree in our living room, and make space on table tops and shelves for various Christmas-themed knick-knacks. I’d tell you the details of hanging the Christmas lights outside, except that my main job in that is to keep the children in a holding pattern and pray for rooftop safety while my husband untangles and hangs the strands.
What about Christmas cards? Man, I’m already behind on that. You know Thanksgiving is the best opportunity to take those pictures. Our little family is dressed up (sort of) in stain-free (sort of) clothes. There are extra relatives around to take a picture. I’m telling you from Christmases past, if we don’t snap that photo then, we’ll never get the cards ordered in time to address the envelopes in time to get them in the post office in time for Christmas.
Then, we need to get some sweet treats in order. My mother-in-law makes 1,500 chocolate-covered peanut butter balls that she unappetizingly calls “Reindeer Poop.” That doesn’t happen overnight, people! Twenty-five days to go!
Honestly, what are we even doing sitting here? We should be in Atlanta shopping, or at home baking, or at Walgreens printing our Christmas cards! We have gifts to wrap and family gatherings to plan! This merriment isn’t going to make itself. Let’s go, people!
…Well, actually. Actually I think we’re right where we need to be: in worship.
We’re gathered here because we want to prepare ourselves spiritually to celebrate the birth of Christ. Of all the Christmas preparations we’ll make, that is the most important. And I think we know that – but in all the rush and pressure of the holidays, we can be tricked into thinking that the other preparations are the necessities and the God-related stuff is somehow optional; we’ll get to it if we have time.
A couple of years ago I was due to deliver my baby boy on December 26th. I accepted the reality that I simply could not uphold every Christmas tradition while also being mom to a newborn baby and pastor to a congregation. So I did not send out Christmas cards. And we only put up minimal Christmas decorations. And you know what?
Christmas still happened.
Let me speak this prophetic word: All the holiday stuff that you might rush around doing this season is optional. I know we’ve done them so many years, it seems like Christmas might not happen without cookies and eggnog, ornaments and perfectly wrapped gifts. But I’m telling you, if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ then there is only one mandatory ingredient to a good Christmas and that is – you guessed it – Jesus Christ.
So may the first things on our “to do” lists be prayer and Scripture reading, worship services and serving others. May we prepare for the birth of the Christ child by drawing close to him. And then, if there’s time, maybe some of that other stuff, too.
There are twenty-five days left until Christmas, people. Twenty-five! Let’s use each one of them well.