Nearly everything I read that talks about the Christmas season makes use of a little phrase: the Christmas spirit.
You hear it mentioned when people talk and read it when they send you a holiday card. You see it on advertisements and when people are trying to explain the purpose of the holidays. You may even hear someone, who is not joyful at this time of year, being condemned for not being in the spirit of the season. But what exactly does it mean? What is this holiday spirit that everyone is referring to?
We are told that if you have the Christmas spirit it means that you are showing care and concern for someone who is sick, hurting or lonely during the holidays. It may mean to some that you are reaching out to those who are less fortunate. Oftentimes, it simply means that you are donating your time and resources to a good cause all with the intent of making the world a better place.
If this is true then I guess we only care for people in the month of December and tell them to take a hike the other 11 months of the year. But shouldn't we do these kinds of good-spirited activities year round? So then what do we mean when we talk about the Christmas spirit?
Could it be that this idea of a Christmas spirit is nothing more than just a mysterious way of capturing everyone's own individual interpretation of what Christmas means without the risk of offending or attaching a religious tone to the holidays?
The spirit of Christmas need not be a confusing subject because the answer has been with Christians for 2,000 years. The real meaning and purpose of Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ. Just under 2,000 years ago, God sent his son Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, into the world to walk among us, live a sinless life, to reveal God to the world, to preach salvation to the lost, and then die on a cross to take away the sins of the world. The Christmas spirit is not about you or what you do. It is not mysterious. It is very real. It is a fact of history.
It appears as though more people are growing weary of the increasing busyness and commercialization of Christmas. Many people would like to return to a simpler way of celebrating this season. But our busyness may be a comfortable distraction to those who do not want Christ to be at the center of this annual celebration.
Activity is good for pulling our minds away from honest thinking. So many people may let this Christmas pass without ever hearing the story about what Christ came to do for them. Please take the time to read the Christmas story for yourself. You can find it in the Bible in Matthew, chapters 1 and 2. But please don't stop reading there. Read the rest of the book as well. I hope you get to know Christ this season.
Rev. Nathan Dick is pastor of the Panton Community Baptist Chruch.