Wednesday, December 12, 2018
WHAT IS THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT?
6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
In his book, The Second Tree from the Corner, E. B. White makes this throbbing observation: “To perceive Christmas through its wrappings becomes more difficult with every year.” This Christmas season seems to be even busier than most and the unfinished projects contribute to my difficulty of finding Christmas spirit. The problem seems to be in its definition. I will list a few contributing sources of what we sometimes refer to as the Christmas spirit.
1. IT IS THE SPIRIT OF ANTICIPATION!
Those who practice a more liturgical form of worship, if they pay attention to it, may be better equipped to understand the spirit of anticipation. The season of Advent is a season of waiting, of anticipating. It is waiting plus knowing. The Advent calendar, with its little daily door to be opened, marches confidently toward a known conclusion and not to an uncertain end. It is the spirit of anticipation.
25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
2. IT IS THE SPIRIT OF SURPRIZE!
Christmas should be full of surprises. It is when the days become long and predictable that we tumble into bed without a feeling of triumph with weariness our only reward. It is the day full of surprises that ends with a deep sigh of satisfaction.
36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;
37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
Simeon was fulfilled in his waiting – but Anna was joyfully surprised! The Christmas Story – the one in the Bible and not the movie on TV – is full of surprise words like “suddenly” and “immediately.” The Christmas spirit is the spirit of surprise.
3. IT IS THE SPIRIT OF WONDER!
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
The combination of the Greek words for “sore afraid” is actually “mega phobia.” It is the spirit of wonder and incredulity. It is Mary asking the angel “how can this thing be?” It is the speechless shepherds wide-eyed and doubtful of their own senses.
4. IT IS THE SPIRIT OF FAITH!
11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Substance and evidence! These fill the heart of the one full of unverified hope and unexplained joy. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit and a product of the holy written word. We need an apt benediction both for those with the Christmas spirit and for we who still seek it today.
13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
Dear Lord, fill us all with that joy and peace in believing today. Fill us with wonder. Surprise us with your presence. AMEN