I was wearing a kitschy “Jesus it the reason for the season” t-shirt. It was bright red with silver glitter, and perfect for grabbing attention. Quite common around where I’m from. As I sat across from a non-Southern friend, a thought occurred to me: What message does my shirt really send? After all, I have seen Christmas clothing much like mine for years – often worn by southern mamas as they hang tightly to their hollering toddlers waiting in line to see Santa. It’s as if they (we?) want to communicate that although we are just as involved in the secular side of the holiday as most everyone else, we know what the day is really all about. Never the less, it does not stop us from joining the crowds on Black Friday (Sale! Sale! Sale!) , eating too many cookies and drinking too much eggnog (some like it spiked), and watching cheesy (but lovable, in my humble opinion) Hallmark movies. Oh, sure, we go to church during the Advent Season. Sometimes twice a week. Maybe we read a chapter of the book of Luke a day and plan for a Christmas pageant where our kids can portray the cast of the nativity. But we still often say Jesus is the reason for the season while we spend a lot more time on the other side of things than we do on the main thing. Yet, we wear our shirts that claim otherwise loud and proud. This is an ironic message coming from me, the self-proclaimed queen of Christmas who used to wear red and green almost every day of the month (leggings with holly and berries, bow and wreath shaped earrings, scarves with candy canes – the works). Not only did I wear it all, but I participated in it all. I have always loved Christmas, since I was a child and my parents sacrificed to ensure it was a very special time for their five children (which still brings tears to my eyes). At the same time, the candlelight Christmas service was always my very favorite of the year. Especially when we sang “Away in a manger,” my most beloved carol. My three year old daughter is preparing to sing this song as a part of our church’s preschool and children’s Christmas program this year. She is a precious sight, rocking her pretend baby Jesus and flashing her hands in the air as if they are stars. Although I continue to dress her in darling festive wear, I want her focus to truly be on the baby Jesus who had no crib for a bed. Not on Santa or gifts or treats (although those things are fun) or even time with family (although that is incredibly important). I don’t have a problem with the secular side of Christmas, but my enjoyment of it has waned through the years as my cravings increase for quiet moments apart from the hustle and bustle to reflect on my Savior’s birth. Not the silent and sweet delivery depicted in the erroneous nativities, but on the hard labor Mary endured in what was likely a smelly cave, on what was sure to be fear in Joseph despite the angel’s warnings, on the piercing scream of a newborn babe who came to save people from their sins. Yes, Jesus really is the reason for the season. A long sleeve tee doesn’t tell that story. Only Christ followers can. In the midst of the fun of the holiday I have always adored, may we take the time and the opportunity to truly share about the great love of God. There would be no Christmas without Him sending His only son. And without Jesus, we have no hope. A hurting world seeking fleeting moments of enjoyment need to hear this message. A message for all people, for all time. One that leads to year round joy, rather than temporary excitement. My witness for the gospel of Jesus Christ must be more than one shirt can explain. Celebrating the secular side of Christmas should be secondary to celebrating the birth of Jesus for those who call themselves follower of Christ. Don’t worry, I will keep on wearing my merry accessories and clothing. After all, my tackiest sweater is hanging in the closet awaiting its debut.
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