Last night I found myself tuned in to the “Charlie Brown Christmas” special on ABC. It’s the familiar old classic where Charlie Brown wanders about, lost in confusion over the true meaning of Christmas. Charlie is a perpetually cynical character, but this time his cynicism seems particularily on point. After all, it’s well documented that Christmas has been watered down by the dual threats of consumerism and commercialism. It’s a full time job just trying to guard our minds from getting caught up in the frivolous activities that accompany the holidays. And though it may sound old and tired (as old as the Charlie Brown Christmas special), once again, this year, it’s well worth our time to explore the true meaning of Christmas.
I’ve been asking myself, “What would Christmas mean to me if I stripped it down to the bare essentials?” I came across this excerpt from a letter Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote to his fiancé while he was imprisoned in Nazi Germany. He was lamenting the fact he couldn’t prepare for, or celebrate Christmas the way he used to. He writes these words…
“I think we’re going to have an exceptionally good Christmas. The very fact that outward circumstance precludes our making provision for it will show whether we can be content with what is truly essential. I used to be very fond of thinking up and buying presents, but now that we have nothing to give, the gift God gave us in the birth of Christ will seem all the more glorious … The poorer our quarters.”
I’m inspired to always keep my attention on the gift God gave us in the birth of Christ. Ironically, I’m experiencing the reverse of what Dietrich Bonhoeffer was going through. My life’s circumstances seem to be getting better and better year after year. In light of that, I’m asking myself this question, “is the glorious gift of Christ’s’ birth diminished in the midst of the lavish and excessive gifts I give and receive this year?” If so, how can I change the experience for myself and my family this Christmas season?
May you find Jesus to be the most glorious gift this year and may the gift of Christ’s birth leave you lacking nothing.