Every year around the end of November, there seems to be something in the air. A feeling comes over most people in December that isn’t felt as strongly throughout the rest of the year. People seem more friendly. Strangers smile at each other more. People seem to make more eye contact with each other—instead of always looking at a phone screen, people seem to be looking ahead and noticing what’s going on around them. Christmas carols are playing in the stores and decorations are hung on every spare nail. People call this the “Spirit of Christmas,” and even hardcore Scrooges seem to catch a little of this feeling throughout December.
I like all the trimmings of a commercial Christmas. I spend a couple of evenings driving around town looking at the lights and decorations which people have displayed. Some houses are completely decked out and it’s obvious that hours of work have been dedicated to making the home beautiful. The spirit of Christmas appears to be alive and well!
However, for Christians, the spirit of Christmas begins with Advent. Four Sundays before the birth of Jesus Christ, in church we are told about the journey that Mary and Joseph took before the birth of their precious son. Each Sunday brings us a little closer to the birth of the Son of God. Each Sunday, a candle is lit to signify the Light of the World coming. By Christmas Eve there are four candles lit, and these candles create a significant amount of light. On Christmas Eve, we light another candle to represent the birth of Our Lord and Saviour. He comes to us, not as a grown man, not as a great warrior but instead as a defenceless baby. Jesus is born and is completely dependent on his earthly parents to grow and thrive as a human being. Just like the rest of us, Jesus comes into the world unable to fend for himself and reliant on those around him to keep him safe and sound.
So, what do these two visions of Christmas have in common? How does the commercial Christmas fit into the Christian Christmas?
I think the “spirit” around Christmas is the main link between the religious and secular Christmas. Christians feel the anticipation of the birth of Jesus during Advent. God sent his Son to save us from evil. Jesus comes to us as another promise from God that he is always with us. Jesus is born a human so we can relate to God on a different level. Jesus comes to give us hope and security that God knows exactly how we feel. This baby is God’s gift to Christians to help us to further feel the spiritual connection with “Our Father who art in heaven,” as we say in the prayer that Jesus taught us. This reminder every year, this spiritual connection, helps keep Christians in the “spirit” of Christ all year around. Our Christmas lights may only last the month of December but the Light of the World that Jesus represents lasts all year for Christians and this is the Spirit of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit upon which we keep in our hearts each and every day!
God bless you all and have a great Holy Christmas.