What do I love to do for Christmas?
- Bake cookies
- Make homemade bread
- Tour neighborhoods that have Christmas displays
- Write my annual Christmas letter
- Select stamps with just the right Christmas theme
- Choose Christmas cards with just the right message and picture.
- Play piano solos of Christmas carols.
I even get a buzz out of signing my cards with a green ink pen. Okay, I’m weird. My husband acknowledged experiencing pleasure in finding images on the Internet to use in his creation of return address labels.
Have Jack and I forgot the reason for the season – that Jesus came to earth in human form as a helpless, obscure baby so that He could grow up and die for the sins of the world?
I don’t think so.
God has implanted creativity within each of us. It’s a resource at our disposal to express our worship and adoration of Him. He’s given it to each of us in different measures and various forms so the expression of our worship can take on infinite combinations. Expression means it’s public – we get to share with other people. Through the display of our creative talent, we encourage others to worship God.
What does that have to do with Christmas?
Christmas is the best thing that ever happened to Planet Earth. What much of Christendom labels as the Immaculate Conception is one of the toughest concepts for humans to understand and accept. Acknowledging that a woman could conceive a baby through and only through the power of God and that what took up residence in her womb was fully God and fully man is, I believe, one of the most difficult of miracles for people to believe.
Yet, if we agree that God could create the world from nothing, then He can do anything, including creating a baby without the help of a Y chromosome.
As we try to process this wondrous, marvelous event, our human natures struggle to express how we feel about our God doing such a miraculous thing for us. We are created in God’s image so something cries within us to create, express, and celebrate. We long to use whatever we have available to worship and honor the God who would do such a thing, and to express our joy and gratitude for this inexpressible gift. Our desire to give gifts comes out of that deep-seeded need to share and rejoice with others over the gift God has extended to us.
And so, deep down, that longing to throw on another loop of lights on the Christmas tree, fill the house with sweet savors, or create added touches of beauty and symmetry in our homes comes from a longing to worship God. We find deep satisfaction in music, art, and literature because God has given us those vehicles to express beyond words our emotions about His coming.
I don’t feel so creative, you might say. I don’t like all the Christmas folderol.
Satan loves to usurp and destroy the meaning behind our tangible expressions. Here are three things that threaten to derail our creative bents and what you can do to retain your need to worship God through creative expression.
Too many demands.
Already full days get crammed with more activity. Other people put obligations on us so inner desires turn into outward demands. Wanting to share a gift with Aunt Susie becomes I have to give a gift to Aunt Susie. Frustrated that we can’t keep up, the joy of creativity fades into a shabby facsimile of what Christmas ought to be.
Solution: What are your abilities, aptitudes, and passions? What activities do you like to do best at Christmas? Limit yourself to those things. This year, cut out one activity that you obligate yourself to do. Limit yourself to the enjoyment of one Christmas program instead of trying to do them all. Make time to do one activity that brings you to the stage of worship and joy.
My husband and I had to be very intentional about carving out time to do a family activity we love to do each year. We cancelled everything for one evening, traveled sixty miles to the big city, had a lovely supper together, browsed through Sam’s Club (And I let him buy me a couple of things), and then we toured a park’s light display. I was so filled with joy and wonder at the fact that I could now see more details of the light displays that I worshiped God once again for His power and love. That one evening will carry me through the busy-ness of the next week!
Entanglement in things that don’t point to Christ.
When we focus on only the outward trappings, we fail to complete the picture of why we are celebrating Christmas. The decorations, carols, baking, and well wrapped gifts should be a means to an end, yet, all too often they become an end unto themselves. The world wants to steer us away from worship, so it turns our head to look at Santa Claus or the latest sales flyer. It tries to focus our gaze on ourselves rather than the Christ.
Solution: Christmas is not about me. It’s about Jesus. Of all people, Christians ought to celebrate Christmas well. In and of themselves, there is nothing wrong with decorating our homes, baking cookies, or pretending that a kind man named St. Nicholas gave gifts to poor children in the name of Jesus. Satan loves to turn good and neutral things into selfish and sinful things. Don’t let him do it. With every activity, ask yourself, how can I worship God through this activity?
As you put up your Christmas tree, play religious carols in the background. As you bake cookies, pray for the people who will receive your gift. And as you tie that special bow on a gift, thank God for His gift of creativity and His creation. Thank Him for Jesus, the best gift of all.
Sorrow and woundedness
Despite the date on the calendar, world events and the sorrows of our everyday lives march on. Perhaps memories of the past cloud your ability to find joy in Christmas celebrations. A lost loved one in the month of December. A grandmother who would always get drunk on Christmas Day when you were a child. Family fights over gifts.
I’m so sorry if you carry those wounds. I know how hard it is to divorce yourself from those memories. Jesus knows the wounds you bear. It is for those sorrows and struggles that He came to the world in the first place.
Solution: Combine your creativity and your woundedness to take yourself to a deeper appreciation of what Christ accomplished at Christmas. You, more than others, know what Christ wanted to rescue us from. Praise Him for the gift He extends to you – a key to release you from the bondage of those past hurts.
Then determine to use Christmas as a time to lift the burdens of others who find Christmas more of a trial than a triumph. Slip five dollars into a red kettle. Invite a widow to your home for Christmas dinner. Take a pot of soup and a plate of cookies to someone who can’t return the favor. Join a group of carolers at your local nursing home. Attend Christmas Eve services to remind yourself why we are all doing this stuff in the first place. Replace sorrow with joy. Claim the verse that says that by the wounds of Christ, we are healed!
Don’t be ashamed of the fact that you like Christmas.
If you like the decorating, baking, gift giving, and music of Christmas, it’s your God-image crying out to worship the Giver of the inexpressible gift. Always be mindful, however, to channel your Christmas creativity toward Jesus and not allow it to get short-changed into something it was never meant to be.