On Clark Griswold, George Bailey and Jesus

By Matt Sapp

By Matt Sapp

Christmas is a week away. If you’re like me that means you’ve been going full speed for the last week and all the things on your to-do list are starting to pile up as you try to squeeze them into an ever-diminishing amount of time.

In the middle of the holiday hurry, it’s easy to forget that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. It’s become cliché, but when you combine our Christmas busyness with the secular trappings of the holiday, we really can miss the true meaning of Christmas if we’re not careful.

So every year faithful curmudgeons yell at us to “Remember the true meaning of Christmas!” Or, “Don’t take Christ out of Christmas!” Or, “Jesus is the reason for the season!” 

And that message needs to be heard. It’s a good one. At HERITAGE, in our own curmudgeonly stand, we’re focusing on justice and righteousness this Christmas—no lightweight fluff here. 

But let’s not forget how valuable the merry-making and tinsel are, too. Christmas is earth-shattering, life-changing and God-revealing, but Christmas should be merry and bright and fun and silly and relaxed, too. So put Christ first at Christmas—remember the reason for the season—but then banish your inner curmudgeon and don an elfish grin and relax. Rudolph and Frosty and the Grinch deserve your attention, too.

Here are three ways you can do that over the next seven days.

Intentionally slow down. Unplug, disconnect and enjoy Christmas with the people around you.  And stop worrying about work or other responsibilities. Here are two things that might help you.

Each morning of the holiday, make a list of things you’re going to do that day. AND, make a list of things you aren’t going to do that day. Sometimes identifying what you won’t do or don’t need to do on a given day is just as important as making a list of the things you need to do.

So if you have a big project at work or some things to do around the house that are nagging at you, flip a few days or a week forward in your calendar and schedule those items for another day. Just knowing that you’ve reserved an appropriate time to get them done can help you stop worrying about them today.

If you’re staying home for the holidays, intentionally schedule some activities. Get up and get out. Don’t over-schedule yourself, but make plans for a movie or a night out or just to stroll around the outlet shops. Treat yourself and your family to activities that make the holiday season special, and make sure you do more than stare at screens this Christmas.

Finally, cut loose. Have a little fun. Enjoy your family. Enjoy your friends. Laugh with Clark Griswold and cry with George Bailey. Cheer on your football teams. Eat too much. Act like a kid again. Engage these days with wild-eyed wonder. Just celebrate.

After all, there are few things more worthy of your unabashed celebration than Christmas.

There are plenty of things wrong in our world. We have plenty to worry about. But at Christmas we remember that God is with us, that God is in control, that God is love, and that love wins in the end. 

At Christmas we celebrate a God who comes to earth to make things right—for us, for our families, and for our world.

Thousands of years ago, a man named Isaiah said this about the coming Messiah.

His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forever more.

Isaiah’s hope then is our hope now, and it is the promise of Bethlehem’s manger. There’s never been a better reason to celebrate.

Merry Christmas.