Monday, November 7, 2011

Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell - STOP!

Matthew 15:6
"So, for the sake of your tradition, you make void the word of God."

Christmas. . .

The most wonderful time of the year. Sleigh bells ringing. Making a list, checking it twice. Red-nosed Rudolph. Visions of sugar plums. Decking the halls. Stockings hung with care. Rockin' around the Christmas tree. Jingle all the way. Happy Holidays!

Christmas. . .

Hijacked by secular traditions.

How do we, as Christians, reclaim the sanctity of this most holy day?

How do we transform "shop until you drop" into "pray, and never stop"?

How can we put the "Christ" back in "Christmas"?

With Advent and the celebration of Jesus' birth just around the bend, I've put together a list of suggestions to help you do just that. It is not, by any means, definitive, but it reflects many of the changes I have made through the years in how I, and my family, celebrate God's coming to dwell among us.
  • When someone says to you, "Happy Holidays!", fire back with your broadest, brightest smile and wish them a very "Merry Christmas!"
  • Trash the secular ornaments adorning your Christmas tree and replace them with ones that represent Jesus' birth and God's love for you. Short on cash? Get creative! Hand-made ornaments are just as good, if not better, than store-bought, and will create special memories.
  • Wondering what to buy for that person in your life who has everything? How about a daily devotions book or other inspirational read to bolster them in their faith walk during the coming year?
  • Purchase or make an advent wreath and light the prescribed candles each of the four Sundays preceding Christmas at your evening meal. You can find appropriate prayers for this advent custom at http://cptryon.org/prayer/adx/adwreath.html.
  • Have an advent calendar on the wall, especially if you have little ones. They love opening a new door or attaching a Velcro figure to an ever-expanding scene on a cloth background. Again, make sure your calendar depicts the true story of Christmas.
  • Forget the Dickensian Christmas village beneath your tree or on your hearth! Place there, instead, the Nativity scene.
  • Ask others to give in your name to a charitable organization instead of giving you a present.
  • Make a donation to a charitable organization. If you have children or teens under your roof, take the time to explain to them what you are doing and why.
  • Remember to celebrate the REAL New Year on the first day of Advent; that is the Christian New Year! Yes, you have my permission to set off fireworks! :)
  • Love to sing? Organize a caroling group to spread the good news of Christ's coming into the world. Where and what you decide to sing is your call!
On this last note (okay, you caught me - pun intended!), several years ago, we were at a loss for "upbeat" Christmas songs which fit the mold of our contemporary service where our band, Crossroads, leads worship. Seeing my husband, Danny, so distraught, I felt compelled to come up with something . . .

But, what?

Wham! The inspiration hit! What if I took some of the secular holiday songs people like so much and reclaim them for the true meaning of the season?

God is SO good!

Withing thirty minutes, I had rewritten "Jingle Bell Rock" and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree". Redeemed and reborn, these were immediate hits with the congregation and are to this day.

Would you like to reclaim these, too?

Just visit our website at www.wix.com/dannymorlando/kumcrossroads and scroll to these songs listed under "Our Music".

I do hope they will help bring even more joy into this most miraculous of all seasons.

May all your Christmases by bright with His love!

I am thankful today for Danny's safe drive from Kennesaw to Charlotte, NC.

Readings
Psalms 80 or 77, (79)
Nehemiah 9:1-15
Revelation 18:1-8
Matthew 15:1-20

15 comments:

  1. Christmas is a time for family and song. Religion to not something i follow but a belief in god is. Nothing touches me quite as much as my annual visit to a carol service where your heart and soul can't fail to be touched, and your spirit is raised. I totally agree that we need to remember what christmas is, and bring the spirit to others less fortunate.

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  2. I wish you a Merry Christmas in advance...and I agree with everything you have written Martha,I intend to follow u this year.

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  3. "Make a donation to a charitable organization. If you have children or teens under your roof, take the time to explain to them what you are doing and why." this it the meaning of Christmas giving of your self to god and others and teaching his words to the children and living them. thank you and god bless

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  4. Why can't we just be in the spirit?

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  5. Great points Martha! I appreciate your sharing this early in the "season" so that I can start working on my thoughts - focusing them in the right direction. It is so easy to get distracted and caught up on the chaos. Rather than "Christmas Spirit" this year, my family is making more room for the Holy Spirit :)

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  6. Thanks, everyone, for stopping by today!
    @Larry - Being in the Christmas spirit and sharing that goodness with others is so important!
    @Alpana - And, a Merry Christmas back at you! So glad you liked these ideas.
    @Roy - It is important to give to others all the time, but Christmas makes us ever so mindful of it. Glad you liked this one!
    @Savira - I know! We should have the Christmas spirit within us all year round.

    Blessings to all!

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  7. Christmas is such a trigger for me....but as a CHristian I make sure to bring Jesus up front....I hate the Happy Holidays thing....As always...XOXOXOXO

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  8. Thanks, Constance and Bonnie, for stopping by today!
    @Constance - I LOVE that you are making room for the Holy Spirit! Simply awesome! Glad this post was helpful to you.
    @Bonnie - Yes, we'll move Jesus right up front where He belongs. I dislike "happy holidays", too. I like to call things as they really are!

    Blessings to you both!

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  9. It took me years to get to this point (regretfully so) but we no longer celebrate Christmas at our house. It was a slow process though. I started feeling something was wrong in the early 80's which was a few years after I began to understand the Work of the Cross. As I progressed through to where I am today, I did make sure my focus was on the reason for the season. I made a flashing star/cross for my window. I made a red velvet cake saying "Happy Birthday Jesus" that my family and I would have for our Christmas devotions before we opened gifts. The red velvet was to denote the blood of Jesus washing us white as snow (white frosting). I put white lights in the center of my tree before I put the ornaments and other lights up. You can not (unless you do this yourself) imagine the depths and beauty of the tree when you put lights in the center. Then in a devotion at a Christmas party I would explain how the beauty of a person was when the light of Christ shone from the inside out. I also used red lights and made a cross inside the tree. Christmas wasn't about the cross, I know...but then again...maybe it was. :) Oh, and I refused to shop anywhere that said Merry Xmas. We also began to pare down gift giving because it didn't make sense to receive gifts on someone else's birthday. In fact one of the happiest Christmases we remember was when there were no gifts.
    The progression to this point included looking around me and being ultra aware of the stress and knowing more suicides happen at this time of year than any other time. I felt the stress too. What if this person or that person wasn't happy with my gift. For me, it's not worth it. Then I began to look up the origins of Christmas and I knew I had to let it go...and even THEN I fought it. I put up my special tree, and made the house festive and reasoned that it was alright because God knew my heart. For me, (please do not think that I think everyone should believe like I do... I still do believe that it's a matter of the heart) I reiterate, "for me" Christmas had to go.
    I do love this blog though because I can see your heart wants the focus to be on the original intent...to celebrate the birth of our Savior. May He bless you through this time.
    Victoria Jenkins

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  10. Wow, Victoria, what an amazing journey you have shared here. I see your reasoning in this so clearly and I do understand that how and if Christmas is celebrated, it does have to come from the heart. We all have to do what feels right to us in the end.

    Although we still give gifts to our children, several years ago Danny and I decided to get away to the North Carolina mountains for several days and stay in a beautiful cabin. It was, and is, a gift we share with each other to spend time together and reconnect as a couple. We are going again in less than two weeks - I can hardly wait!

    Thank you so much for stopping by today and leaving your beautiful comment!

    Blessings!

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  11. Hey, I know just the book of devotions to buy… for NEXT Christmas!
    Because Christmas has been hijacked by secular society, I generally dread it :-(
    But I LOVE this message Martha. It really touched my heart.

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  12. I did stop by , and I am so pleased I did , I know that not every one shares the same feeling , for many people it is a time of sadness as it brings back bad memmories and my heart goes out to them and for manyhomeless it is indeed a very sad time, andyet from what I see in the shelter they have more heart and love than some people who are able to celebrateChristmas with all the trimmings yettheeyare the most ungrateful, thank you for inviting me to your page , you have really touched me with your words...Anna

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  13. Great post Martha, and a wonderful list of things we can do to return the emphasis to where it belongs this Christmas!

    Thank you for sharing this!

    Have a Blessed Day!

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  14. Over the last 5 yrs, our financial situation has changed drastically...I know, God always does things for a reason :) With all of the changes in our lives, Christmas morning each year became sparse as far as gifts under the tree. Slowly, we began to see that the true meaning of Christmas was Christ and family.
    That is how we celebrate now...together...sharing stories and being with each other. Of course, we do try to get our children one gift but our emphasis is on spending quality time with each other as that is what we were lacking the most before. I have also included the kids in helping me prepare food baskets for the homeless and taking a small gift to children in the hospital over Christmas. I think this year, we are going to add a visit to our local nursing home and spend time with the elders that have no family.

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  15. You mentioned Christmas songs. Although I enjoy some of the traditional Christmas hymns, one of my new favorites is a more contemporary hymn (I call it a hymn), "Mary, Did You Know?" The words are so expressive and powerful.

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Happy Birthday, Virginia Rose!

Psalm 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Seven years ...