A Different Kind of Christmas

Last Sunday we flew back into to DFW from the Council of Bishops meeting at St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. The weather was cool (if not cold for Texas).  Somehow with Halloween over, despite the fact that Thanksgiving has not come, thoughts turned to Christmas. Many in local churches are already well down the road in Advent/Christmas planning.  At recent United Methodist Publishing House board meeting I was deeply impressed by the writings of Pastor Mike Slaughter (Ginghamsburg UMC) entitled A Different Kind of Christmas.  The subtitle says it all – “living and giving like Jesus.”  A book description takes it a step further.  “Every year, we say we’re going to cut back, simplify, and have a family Christmas that focuses on the real reason for the season—Jesus. But every year, advertisements beckon, the children plead, and it seems easier just to indulge our wants and whims. Overspending, overeating, materialism, and busyness rob us of our peace and joy and rob Jesus of his rightful role as the center of our celebration.”  The series has a study guide, a devotional book, children’s and youth studies as well as a DVD.  I commend it to you. One of my goals is to “live and give like Jesus.”  I want, indeed long, for a different kind of Christmas.  How about you? There are a variety of other excellent resources that invited us to make the “holidays” truly “holy days.”  A number of different churches and authors in our conferences have produced materials.  Rev. Mark Winter (www.onemanshow.org) of the Central Texas Conference has written Just a Word: A Collection of Advent Devotionals.  The “Journey” material by Adam Hamilton is outstanding.  Other great resources abound. Together, let’s commit to make this a different kind of Christmas.  About ½ a dozen years ago Dan Schaeffer wrote, “This is the essential difference between those who possess the real Christmas spirit and those who don’t.  If you removed the trees, and the lights, and the poinsettias, and the decorations, and the presents, and the food, and the music, those with the real Christmas spirit would still celebrate” (Dan Schaeffer, In Search of the Real Spirit of Christmas, p. 18).  Do you remember that marvelous little story by Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas?  How, after all the trimmings and presents were stolen, the Whos of Whoville still sang.  Let’s sing and reach out in love to the hungry the hurting and the homeless whether it be physical, spiritual, or psychological.