We live in a very secularized society and this Advent season I’ve noticed more than ever how Christmas has been hijacked by non-Christians. The real meaning of the holiday is lost on society at large and those who do not even believe in God, who have chosen not to live for Christ, or who are “anti-religion”, celebrate what should be a very Christian and religious holiday. It makes me sad to see the state that Christmas has been reduced to by this era that we live in.
All around me I see department stores with gigantic Christmas trees all lit up and shiny with glass ornaments. I see crazy sales advertising the best stocking stuffers and promising total happiness to whom ever receives this gift. I hear the radio taken over by songs about riding in sleighs or snuggling up with your loved one by an open fire, dotted with the occasional genuine Christmas carol or hymn about the baby boy whose birthday it truly is. All around me I see the focus removed from the birthday boy and placed by each individual on themselves. We go around telling people what we want this year, not even always waiting to be asked by the other person. To many, this is just another excuse to expect presents from the people around us, or a reason to put up really neat decorations without considering what they mean or stand for traditionally.
By no means am I completely innocent of this behavior. I did not grow up going to church or talking about the real meaning of Christmas. Until Junior year of high school I had never really thought of the birthday boy at all, just like the rest of society. It has become a habit to focus on what I want during this time of year, and it’s a tough one to break. But when I see how things are around me, I have a strong desire to never be like that again, to show the world what it’s really all about. It’s about the hope that entered the world upon the birth of Christ. It’s about the joy of knowing that despite all the horrible things we do as imperfect human beings, God chose to come live among us so that we might have a chance at real life. It’s about gratitude for what this baby boy would someday do for all of us if we just accept it and live for Him. It’s about loving others and giving without expecting anything in return. I fail at this often, but that doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have to keep trying, to keep praying. It means that I need to depend more fully on God. This holiday season I pray that we can take back our holiday from the secular grip and restore the true meaning of Christmas. And I pray that I will not fall to the temptation of focusing on me this year.