I've been thinking about Christmas Spirit. I hear it every year from secular and religious folk alike. I know most Christians aren't religious (meaning lots of things I guess) but the definition is "relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity", so I don't mind that so much. I guess my religion is about a relationship with the one true God, the Triune God. Maybe that's another post.
So I'm sitting here with my family in our PJ's watching A Christmas Carol (the one with Mickey Mouse) and Gladys just came in and told us that today is called "Good Night" (buena noche) instead of Christmas Eve. And since I've been thinking about what in the world Christmas Spirit is all about I thought I'd use that as an intro. Subtlety is an art.
I'm certain that the reason most people want to have Christmas Spirit is because it makes us feel good. It makes other people feel good. As far as I can tell, it is good. It has something to do with giving being better than receiving, with kindness, with joy. Good things. The opposite of Christmas Spirit is Ebeneezer Scrooge and the Grinch. Green, petty, selfish.
But what is it? People tell me to have this nebulous thing and since it is a good thing I'd like to have it.
And yesterday I read this article (a brief, beautiful read) about two high school football teams near Dallas playing a game. One of the teams a well off private school. A Christian one, given their name (Grapevine Faith) but more due to their behavior. Novel concept that, demonstrating faith in Christ through our behavior. Anyway, the other team was the Gainesville State School. They were 0-9, having scored 2 touchdowns all year. Those from the DFW area may recognize another institution in Gainesville - a maximum security correctional facility, formerly known as prison. The coach from Faith set the game up. Had the parents and cheerleaders cheer for the opposing team, made them goody bags, a banner to run through. Gave them a football game.
Because delinquents don't have fans.
Want to know his reason? The coach wanted to tell those kids , ""You are just as valuable as any other person on planet Earth."
So the delinquents lost the game. But before they were handcuffed and lead away to their bus, both teams gathered on the field to pray. Isaiah (what a name for a kid criminal!) asked if he could pray. He said, "Lord, I don't know how this happened, so I don't know how to say thank You, but I never would've known there was so many people in the world that cared about us."
I would have never known there was so many people in the world that cared about us.
Is it novel that people need to know they are cared for? That they matter? If anything, the impossible mystery of the Incarnation - God in Flesh - Immanuel - God With Us - is that God knows we are here and that we are completely overwhelmed by our own sin and He cares enough to do something about it. The Bible calls that love.
And this Christmas Spirit, as much as it has been marketed and movieized (I get to make up a word every Christmas) has as its kernel the very love of the Very God who came to us who were in darkness and showed us His great light. It is no less than to value people because they are. God did not create us by accident. We are not a cosmic mistake, an evolutionary anomaly. We are, every human, created by God in His image and we are each one devastated by our own sin and in desperate need of someone to crash through the wall and redeem us from ourselves.
God did that through an impossible birth. Christ became a baby, which is impossible, to save those He loved. Only God fixes the impossible. For nothing is impossible with God. It cannot be that God became one of us. And yet He did! And IS one of us today! For that baby became a man who died so that we could live. Just because He loves us. Impossible!
It is that very thing - impossible love - which God desires us to demonstrate. And O, woe my soul, I do it poorly. And yet it is this which is the Christmas Spirit. To love an impossible love. To look at another person and simply due to their being, love them and treat them as if they are indeed far greater than we.
Amazing. Wonderful. Impossible.
Happy Good Night! And enjoy, no, demonstrate, the impossible love which saved us from ourselves.