We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us~ 2nd Corinthians 5:20a
This last weekend boredom, a rare kid-free afternoon, a beautiful sunny day, and a case of cabin fever conspired to make me break a self-imposed rule that has served me well for years. I left my house (a.k.a. fortress of sanity) and headed out to the local mall on black Friday.
Because I wasn’t really there to shop, I was free to engage in some intense people watching.
The shoppers seemed to be divided into two distinct groups: those who were stimulated and exhilarated by the crowds, and those who were not. The first group wore big smiles, had an abundance of energy and were clearly very happy to be there. However, most of the shoppers looked weary, more than a little frantic and painfully over-stimulated.
One woman who was clearly a member of the second group caught my attention. Initially it was her festive Christmas sweater, cute boots and jingle bell necklace that I noticed. Ultimately, it was the bitter rant she directed at a harassed-looking salesgirl that seized my attention. The woman went from weary to enraged when the salesgirl politely declined to honor a coupon that had expired.
I will not bore you with all the details of the long drawn-out moral debate I had with myself as I struggled to decide whether or not to use this poor woman as an example in a blog post. I do not know her, nor do I know how she typically conducts herself.
It is possible that she is normally a really pleasant person who just happened to be having a really bad day. It is also possible that she was dealing with some personal issues that contributed to her crankiness. Heaven knows there have been some singular moments of bad behavior in my own life that I do not wish to have judged by the general public.
All that being said, my decision to share this story had more to do with something she said rather than with what she did. Six words uttered by a grumpy stranger, on the foulest shopping day of the year got me thinking about how I view the celebration of an entire season …
“I’m just trying to celebrate Christmas!”
You need to understand up-front that nobody on earth loves Christmas more than I do. My husband and kids are convinced that I should be named the official poster child for Christmas celebrations. I love the lights and decorations (the tackier, the better), the music (the louder, the better), the food (the richer, the better), the movies (the cornier, the better), the traditions, the parties (the more the better) but most of all I love the giving and yes, the receiving of presents.
However, even I have to admit that the humble Christ-child and His much-needed message of reconciliation and peace can and usually does get lost in the midst of the celebration and merriment.
I am not, nor would I ever be rash enough to call for an end to the celebration of Christmas. It’s just too much fun. And I believe with all my heart that the God we serve is the author of fun, celebration and merriment. Old Testament law called for and even commanded the joyful celebration of frequent Holy days.
However, the irritable woman in the mall got me thinking. Maybe Christmas is a thing I should endeavor to be rather than a thing I celebrate and enjoy for one month out of the year.
So this year as we celebrate the holiday and relish the fun and feasting that has become such a big part of the commemoration of our Savior’s birth, I do not want to do more this year. Like most Christians in our culture I already do way too much at Christmas time.
My goal this Christmas is to be more.
More than anything else I want to be the promise of hope that Jesus offers. I want to be the peace that Jesus embodied as I interact with my weary neighbors and the harried salesclerks and the cranky shoppers. My goal this Christmas is to make a much greater effort to model the love and grace that Jesus came to show us.