I’m trying to give you a short summary each week from the sermon, a few gleanings that I found particularly satisfying. But this week I was so convicted that I just wanted to come home and go to bed. But instead I had to hear it all again in the second service (being a devoted wife of the minister). But, thankfully, we had a time of confession again in the second service, so I managed to press on and through.Â Here are the few highlights I have selected for you, and I hope you willÂ be encouraged.
The basic thrust was this: Look out. Look sharp. Christmas is coming, and it is not all about you. The text was Colossians 3:12-17 and the idea that the minister was expressing to us was that we should take a hint from the past seventeen Christmases where we fell on our faces and do a little preparation this year.Â After all, it will be here on Friday. And, as he put it, there it is on the calendar, leering at you.
What could he be talking about? He was talking about all our (unspoken) expectations about Christmas and how they set us up and booby-trap us every year, and we fall flat in several ways: we are disappointed because it wasn’t as wonderful as we had hoped; we didn’t get any good gifts (a mop instead of pearls); the stuff we got everyone else was way under-appreciated; nobody offered to help in the kitchen; and we load everyone up with emotional, financial, and spiritual invoices that we tuck into the gifts we are giving. This translates into an emotional roller coaster ride rather than a sweet celebration of gratitude to God for His unspeakable gift.
We know that it is more blessed to give than receive. But this is not an ethical command. It is not a star on our report card. When we give, we are giving ourselves, and when we receive a blessing from giving the gift, then we are actually on the receiving end. In other words, we receive when we give more than we receive when we receive. Giving is a gift in itself.
Christmas is ordinary life, only ramped up, so we need to ramp up our preparations. We need to focus on being first and then doing will flow from that. But if we go straight to the doing (cooking, shopping, wrapping, cleaning) without the being (without getting into our Christmas garb) then we will fall flat ten minutes into it.
There is a way to prepare for Christmas this year so the above mentioned items do not happen as in years past. This way of preparing is to get dressed for Christmas. How do we get dressed? We put on Christ. And from the passage in Colossians, this means putting on mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, forgiveness, and longsuffering.
So get dressed for Christmas. Put on Christ. Don’t be a fusser. Don’t load your family up with unspoken expectations and then flop when they don’t perform. Doing flows out of being. So first be dressed in Christ. And then do Christmas.