We Do This Every Year—Life Application for December 25, 2016

December 18, 2016 No Comments »
We Do This Every Year—Life Application for December 25, 2016

By David Faust

faustThere’s a predictable familiarity about Christmas. Every December we watch the same movies and TV shows we viewed last year and the year before. We get together with the same people, drag those gaudy red and green sweaters out of our closets, and attend programs at school and church that look and sound a lot like last year’s. The extra calories we consume every December make our bellies shake when we laugh like bowlfuls of jelly.

When I was a boy, I didn’t like the oyster soup my grandma made every Christmas, but I liked that she made it. It smelled like Christmas to me. For some unknown reason, every year my dad bought a large peppermint stick about a foot long and two inches thick, smashed it into pieces with a hammer, and our family nibbled on the candy throughout the holiday. I never fully understood the tradition, but it makes me smile to picture Dad pounding on that defenseless peppermint stick.

Too Predictable?

Has your Christmas become boring? Do you automatically know in advance who will bring the cheeseball and the Buffalo wings to the holiday gathering? Do the carols and the lights still stir your soul, or do you feel like yawning because you’ve seen and heard it all before? Have your holiday traditions lost their relevance? Have you heard the story of the baby Jesus so many times that the second chapter of Luke no longer grabs your heart? Has your passion for God melted down like a worn-out candle?

Before you cynically conclude, “Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be” and you start going through the motions at Christmas, consider the possibility that you may be hardwired for these motions. What if certain muscles in your soul need an occasional workout and Christmas exercises them? The Creator designed us to experience a certain rhythm in life. The Jews observed annual downtimes for rest, reflection, and worship—from the solemn Passover in the spring to the happy Feast of Tabernacles in the fall. Through centuries of Christian history, Jesus’ followers have found hope and inspiration by revisiting that holy night in Bethlehem when angels’ songs filled the air and shepherds adored the baby in a manger.

Joy in the Familiar Story

Nothing in Scripture requires us to observe Christmas at all, but if we listen anew to the old familiar story, God can use it to refresh our faith. So this Christmas:

• May the “Hallelujah Chorus” touch your heart.

• May buying and wrapping a present remind you it’s more blessed to give than to receive.

• May a signature on a Christmas card make you grateful for a friend.

• May you surprise a lonely neighbor or a weary worker with an unexpected gift.

• May familiar aromas wafting from the kitchen stove make you thank God for fond memories and kind cooks.

• May you receive warm hugs from children with sticky peppermint fingers and from grandparents wearing gaudy sweaters.

• May you get tears in your eyes when you read Luke 2
and a lump in your throat when the congregation sings “Silent Night.”

• May Christmas bring you closer to the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, the Word who became flesh, the crucified and risen Lord who reigns in our hearts every day of the year.

David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2013, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.

As you apply today’s Scripture study to everyday life, read Engage Your Faith by David Faust and the correlating Evaluation Questions.

Daily Readings

Dec. 19

M.

Micah 5:1-5

The New Ruler from Bethlehem

Dec. 20

T.

Matthew 1:18-25

Joseph Takes Mary as His Wife

Dec. 21

W.

Matthew 2:1-12

The Visit of the Wise Men

Dec. 22

T.

Matthew 2:13-15

The Escape to Egypt

Dec. 23

F.

Luke 2:1-4

Journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem

Dec. 24

S.

Luke 2:5-7

Mary Delivers Her Firstborn

Dec. 25

S.

Luke 2:8-20

The Shepherds and the Angels

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