Monday, November 30, 2015

The Spirit of Christmas

              Starbucks' cups. Does the mention of this topic make you see red? It seems like small potatoes now, what with the horror of violence erupting around the globe. But a few weeks ago photos of the cups were popping up everywhere. In Facebook feeds. In the national news reports. Christians were supposedly riled over Starbucks' blank slate cup, and its notable absence of reindeer and snowflakes.
            Curiously, none of my Christian friends seemed particularly bothered by the cups, at least not in the way they were supposed to be. Many were alarmed that once again something as minor as a red drinking vessel was attributed as a Christian call to arms.
            I hate controversy and don’t enjoy hot topic debates, but something about this one caused the little cogs in the back of my mind to spin like gerbil wheels. What constitutes the spirit of Christmas?

            Is it something tangible that can be imprinted on cups, wrapping paper, or whatever else is bought and sold? And if the manger scene in our public places is considered offensive and is replaced by Santa and snowmen, which are eventually also removed for being too “Christmassy,” then how should a Christian react? With picketing? Maybe some “in your face” t-shirts or well-placed signs with snide slogans such as, “If I can’t wish you a Merry Christmas then have a crappy one and sit in the corner and pout.”
            I know this example is over the top, but the idea of turning Christmas into a battle ground sours my stomach. So, back to the original question: What is the Spirit of Christmas? Perhaps it should reflect the nature of another Spirit, God’s Spirit, also called the Holy Spirit. When Jesus entered the world as a little baby (celebrated by Christmas) he came to bring light, love, salvation and peace on earth. At the end of his life he promised the arrival of another to continue his mission: The Holy Spirit. This Spirit also dwells within the believer, changing and transforming them to be more like Jesus.
What are the attributes of this Spirit? Interestingly, the Bible identifies them in a list called the “fruit of the Spirit,” and teaches that a follower of Jesus can be identified by these actions, or “fruit.” What are they? There are nine: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22).
Wow. Amazing list. So if Jesus truly is the reason for the season, and his Spirit reflects his heart, then shouldn’t we embody his Spirit this Christmas? It is a great challenge. One I hope to live out, with God’s help, this season and throughout the year.

“We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:13-16. 

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful, Sara!!! Thank you for writing this! 9 gifts of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control... The first Christmas list! :-)