keeping the 'mas' in 'christmas'


It's two days before Christmas, and there's lots to do. In many of our lives, there's always lots to do.  But during Advent, there's  even more 'lots to do' than usual.

Sugar cookies. Holiday parties.  Food prep.  Christmas tree decorating.  Gingerbread houses.  Greeting cards.  Gifts for children, parents, teachers, friends.  Family dinners.  Work parties.  Church services.  Christmas pageants.  Oh, and let's not forget the Ugly Sweater contests.

Christians often repeat what is now a cliché, "Let's keep Christ in Christmas."  But instead, we're often better at keeping the 'mas' in Christmas, agreeing to jump on the western world's treadmill and sprint for 30 days to do more, be more, buy more.

If keeping the "Christ" in "Christmas" is going to mean something, it has to be more than semantics.  It has to be more than writing "Merry Christmas" instead of "Merry X-mas."  It has to mean protecting the presence of Christ in our hearts, not just the literal word in a phrase.

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What does it mean to be like Jesus during Advent?

If we look at the Nativity story, the worlds that jump off the page are peace, good will, joy, worship, treasure, glorify, those with whom God is pleased.

If you want to keep Christ in your Christmas, if you want Jesus to be the focus of your Advent celebration, these are the words that should define your life in the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

This year, let Advent drive you to stillness.

Let Advent encourage you to pursue peace -- in your relationships with others, and in your own heart.

Let Advent remind you to worship with gratitude and wonder the God who broke down the door of the universe to get to you.

Let Advent remind you to hop off culture's madding treadmill and drop to your knees by the manger instead.

Today, maybe you can take a deep breath and smile.

Or set aside time this evening to sit in the dark and look at the lights of the Christmas tree.

Or smell the fragrance of a burning candle.

Maybe you can remember that the invitation of Advent is not to be overwhelmed, but overjoyed.