Tuesday, December 02, 2008

An Overdose of Christmas?

Brace yourself, it’s time to get ready for the annual assault on pocketbook and stomach and imagination.

We are talking mega-stress, here. Colorful magazines and holiday decorated stores have already filled us with guilt to spur us on to action. It’s time for the latest chapter in conspicuous consumption. But that’s not the worst of it. The real problem with Christmas is an overdose of fantasy.

Christmas is real, and yet Christmas is fantasy. Do our children know the difference?

Talking snowmen, the story of the drummer boy, the littlest angel, the shepherd who brings a lamb, the grinch, the elf with frostbitten toes, talking ornaments, Santa by all his various names . . . on and on goes the list of Christmas phonies.

For Christians the reality of Christmas is so wonderful, so great, so important that it would be a terrible thing to misplace God’s true message for substitutions that tickle our imaginations and entertain us for a few weeks.

The simple and powerful account of Christmas, God with us, has become a tiny speck in a sea of hurry-scurry days that begin in early November. By the time January 2 rolls around we’ve had an excess of holiday, an overdose on fantasy.

Too much about Christmas is artificial. Blinking lights on houses get more attention than the gorgeous full moon in a black velvet sky. Tinsel, plastic trees, flimsy yet flashy decorations are everywhere.

Time for a reality-check.

Our children need to hear from us that the Bible is true and reliable. What it says is no fairy tale. God did send His Son. Jesus came from Heaven and was born as a baby, lived and grew up to die on the cross for our sins. Heaven is a real place and we will go there if we have accepted Jesus as our Savior. We won’t go there by “being good” and by being sincere. According to God’s covenant our sins had to be paid for by a blood offering, and Jesus was that one and only perfect offering.

Discuss what is real.

We don’t need to add imaginary appendages to the real thing. We have true accounts from the Bible of God doing awesome things, of people who were challenged to do outstanding things. We’ve allowed our Bible “stories” to become just that — a flannelgraph tale that glosses over the stark reality of real people in real life who heard from God and obeyed, or disobeyed.

In our homes we need to make these Bible accounts come to life. Make use of a globe, maps, time line, pictures. Discover more about the Jewish culture; how did they live in the New Testament times? Let our young people experience the truth of the Scripture as it was understood “then” and as it applies to our lives now.

Beware the Christmas impostors!

Don’t let our children become captivated by fiction. The truth of God is far more exciting, and eternity is far more important than entertainment.

Get an early start on Christmas this year. Have a family meeting and talk about these important issues.

The stress of the holidays can melt away when we’ve made a new beginning. Let’s clearly label what is real and what is fantasy. There is no better gift for our families than for each of us to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. + + +

by Elaine Hardt ©1996