This Sunday we’re all supposed to celebrate mothers. On the surface it seems like a great idea. After all, we all have or had a mother. When you think about the daily sacrifice that goes into raising a child, setting aside one day a year to express our appreciation and thankfulness seems inadequate, the very least we can do.
But for many of us, the idea of motherhood isn’t that simple. As Facebook recognizes, relationships are sometimes complicated. Life is messy.
As I unpacked our Christmas decorations this week, I found our menorah and dreidel. Pete and I both have Jewish blood (his father, my grandfather) and while he was raised in an evangelical home, and my parents were atheists, I’ve always been a bit curious about our Jewish heritage.
Reading the Old Testament explains many of the Jewish celebrations and holy days, but Hanukkah, which starts this Saturday at sundown, commemorates an event that came after the Hebrew Bible was written. As I set out the menorah, I realized I didn’t have a clue about its significance. So I looked it up.
Do you celebrate Advent? Growing up outside the church, I looked forward to Christmas because of the cookies we’d make, the decorating we’d do, and, most of all, the pile of presents I expected to receive Christmas morning. Christmas was great, but it had nothing to do with a baby born in Bethlehem.
Once I became a Christian, Christmas took on new meaning, but I still didn’t really understand Advent. After all, the word isn’t even in the Bible. We attended a Presbyterian church for a while, and they lit candles and said some prayers those four Sundays leading up to Christmas, but I didn’t know how to “own” Advent for myself. (One thing I did know: it probably didn’t require a Smurf Advent Calendar!)
Ghosts are dangling from neighborhood porches. Scarecrows and pumpkins litter lawns, assorted witches fly their brooms into sturdy tree trunks, and costume stores have sprung up all over town. Love it or hate it, it’s almost Halloween.
When it comes to celebrating Halloween, Christians are incredibly polarized. Some (such as the Church of England) consider Halloween to be a “religious festival just like Christmas Eve.” Others condemn the holiday as pagan and satanic.
“We know how to celebrate Christmas. We’ve got that down to a science. We just haven’t figured out how to celebrate Jesus.”
This quote is from Matt, who blogs at TheChurchOfNoPeople.com. While his posts are always thought-provoking and entertaining (yes, he manages to accomplish both!), this statement really got me thinking.
It’s true. Our culture is so bound up in Christmas that we miss Jesus. Even in the church, we sometimes focus on the Christmas program, the poinsettias for the platform, the gifts for missionaries, the songs, the turkeys for the poorer part of town, the lights, and all the other holiday accessories, that we just don’t have time for the birthday boy. Have we even invited Him to the party?
Today is my 200th post! That’s pretty amazing, a tribute to God’s faithfulness, and an unimaginable milestone when I first started this blog almost two years ago.
To celebrate, I’m taking the day off. Don’t worry, though. I won’t leave you with nothing to read. A wonderful person I know posted this on her birthday last year. I was so impressed, I asked to re-post it here, and she graciously granted permission. I hope we all take Jenny’s perspective to heart. Please check out her blog, “Life.Faith.Travel,” for more inspired writing.
It is my opinion that the day of one’s birthday is the single greatest day of importance in any individual’s year. Perhaps that is a strong opinion, but what other day can you better acknowledge the value and importance of a person than on the day of their birth?
Think on this: the world changes because of someone’s existence. And if you know that someone, it changes your world. Think of your closest friends or family members. Who would you be without them in your life? What would be different? How might your life perceptions vary? The simple notion that someone you know exists with purpose can change the whole way in which we celebrate the day of one’s birth: The biggest day of their life!
Today is December 15. Today is my birthday.
December can be a hard month to have a birthday. It seems the whole world is focused on Christmas, and your personal special day gets lost in the lights and tinsel. Instead of having a birthday party, it’s more likely you find yourself at someone else’s holiday gathering. With all that delicious holiday baking enticing you, you feel guilty eating your birthday cake—if you get one at all. And balloons just don’t look right next to a Christmas tree.
So what’s a December baby to do? Adjust that old attitude!
The whole world is focused on Christmas? That’s great! The crucial point here is realizing that it’s not all about me. It’s about Jesus. My attention needs to be on Him, not myself. Perhaps having a birthday near Christmas will help me learn that lesson sooner than if I’d been born in July.