How to have Christmas every day of the year

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By The Staff

This New Year I want to wish you a Merry Christmas! I have this strange belief that Christmas can be celebrated every day of the year. I realize Christmas 2008 is a fading memory, but before you place it in your scrapbook of holidays, take a moment to reflect on how you can enjoy the best of Christmas every day of the year. When Christmas is in your heart, you can pull it up and savor the finest aspects of Christmas anytime. But we have to get beyond the nastiness of Christmas memories to the true meaning of the event. When I think of the negatives of that holiday season, I see frenzied crowds of people who, like me, have put off what should have been done earlier!

The crowds can be overwhelming. I promised Lori several weeks ago that I would take her to a special breakfast place in Louisville and then do some Christmas shopping. But on the day we were to go, I had a funeral, so I promised her we would go another day. Then there was another unexpected work related event. So I bravely promised her that on the first Monday school was out for the holiday, we would go. I gave no thought to the date of that first Monday. I was braver than I thought, or maybe just ignorant, for the first Monday after Christmas break happened to be the 23rd. People in their right mind do not go to a mall for a "little" shopping on the 23rd of December! I thought I was going to have to have food and water delivered for our survival before we could get out of the parking lot at Oxmoor Mall. We missed first one showing of the movie we had planned to see, then another. The crowd was overwhelming. And frustrating.

We get intimated by the crowd. Whether the crowd is guests in our home for whom we must prepare or crowds in the malls, or crowds on the roads, they can bring fear, frustration and stress. It makes the most courageous of us want to run and hide. Crowds bring the unknown into our lives. We don't know the crowds. They seem strange to us, and often they are.

The Shepherds on the night our Lord was born must have had some of those feelings: they must have felt intimidated, fearful, and awed. In fact the Scripture says they were "terrified." The angel of the Lord had to reassure them: "Don't be afraid!"

Wouldn't you have been afraid? The "radiance to the Lord's glory" surrounded these quiet and humble shepherds whose those night life consisted of bleating sheep with the occasional excitement of an intruding animal. Suddenly, they are not only surrounded by a bright light on that most momentous night but by the angel who is soon joined by a "host of others---the armies of heaven..." (Luke 2:13). Talk about a crowd for Christmas!

But they went anyway, these shepherds. They stepped out in faith. And they found Mary, and Joseph, and baby Jesus. No crowd would sidetrack them from showing up for the first Christmas.

And it didn't stop there. Having left the crowd, they "went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen" (Luke 2:20). Ahha! There is the key to having Christmas all year. Having found Christmas in Jesus, we stay with Him through the year.

Jesus is here. God with us. Now. And forever. As we stay in the presence of Christ - whether it's a dreary Monday morning in February, or like the shepherds, another cold night in the field - we celebrate Christmas. As we stay with the one who came to us, we celebrate Christmas in the ordinary frustrations of life: a cattle stall, swaddling clothes, and crowds. With that Christ child, it is Christmas all year long. Even on New Year's Day!

Editor's note: David B. Whitlock is the pastor of Lebanon Baptist Church in Lebanon. He also teaches at the School of Theology at Campbellsville University in Campbellsville. You can visit his website at www.DavidBWhitlock.com.