Enjoying the Cultural and Christian Christmas

Enjoying the Cultural and Christian Christmas

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The Christmas season is a double blessing for Christians. We get to celebrate the birth of Christ, a pivotal point of the gospel narrative, and we can enjoy the cultural Christmas too. Our family has always loved the cultural Christmas—gathering with friends, gift-giving, and the opportunities to engage our community with the message of Christ. Folks tend to have a more open and generous spirit around Christmas, creating doors for the gospel’s message. We enjoy the reason for the season and share Him with others, the double blessing.

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A Christmas Story

When our children were younger, I recall they hung outside a Kohl’s department store, wishing the shoppers a Merry Christmas. They were sitting on top of our van, spreading Christmas cheer to anyone within twenty-five yards of their outside voices. As they sang, two ladies passed by and greeted them with a “Merry Christmas.” Then one of the ladies asked, “Do you think Santa can see you from the North Pole?” Somewhat under his breath, our then eight-year-old son leaned down to me and said, “No, but God can see us.” I smiled, encouraged that he knew the difference between the two Christmases and that he was using his inside voice.

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A Cultural Christmas

Our children do not believe in the cultural Santa or The Lion King, Ariel, and Puss-in-Boots, though they enjoy the entertainment those characters provide. I’m glad they can play make-believe. I’m happy they know how to imagine and discern truth while staying within the limitations of their imagination. We have not withheld the cultural Christmas from them. We have a Christmas tree, Christmas lights, a Santa figurine, stockings on the mantle, and other family traditions that center on cultural Christmas.

One of our favorite things this season is choosing and cutting our unique tree from The Merry Christmas Tree Farm. Typically, we have watched movies like Miracle on 34th Street, and It’s a Wonderful Life, always hoping George Bailey would make it out of Bedford Falls. Then there are various Christmas playlists of Christmas music in our home from Thanksgiving to New Year. This season is always full of good memories, entertainment, and laughter. It is a season that comes and goes, and we try to catch as much of it as possible.

A Christocentric Christmas

Then there is the other celebration in our home. It’s supra-seasonal, not constrained by time, place, or money. It is a daily celebration that runs throughout the year. Our enthusiasm for this celebration perseveres because it comes through grace and the gospel empowers our Christocentric experience. It is not a secularized cultural event at all. We celebrate the incarnate, crucified, risen, and reigning Savior all year. While there are times when the cultural Christmas can be annoying or in our way, there is never an unwanted intrusion of the biblical Christmas.

This Christmas season, I hope your pace of life does not make you out of sync with the real Christmas. I appeal to you to stop, slow down, and take a break if this season speeds you up too much. While the cultural Christmas can be fun, it is not that vital. Christmas is one of many things in our lives that can direct us to the gospel, but if the cultural Christmas interferes with that, we must reconsider the purposes of our activities. Our busyness needs recalibration if our activities do not point us to the Savior.

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Call to Action

  1. What are your cultural Christmas traditions? As you reflect, what is a fun story from your Christmas past? What are the benefits of making these memories with your family and friends?
  2. Which Christmas takes up most of your time this season—the Christocentric or cultural Christmas?
  3. What are the habits that keep you relaxed year-round? How do you practice slowing down?
  4. How do your social media habits help reduce or increase your soul noise? If your media use hinders you, what is your plan to change?
  5. How are your activities increasing your affection for the incarnate Lord? Will you talk to someone about how your affection for Christ is growing?

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