By Cathryn Lien, Features Editor
What purpose does the holiday season, that wonderful three-month-long blend of America’s wintry festivities and holy days, serve the calendar as a whole? You’ve heard, “Christmas is the season that keeps on giving,” but how does that fit into our lives come spring?
Christmas day celebrates the birth of our Savior, but the complexity of His coming makes gift wrapping this season into a single box impossible. Your family might have baked a cake for Jesus this year (and there is no harm in that), but let us not simplify Christmas to an ordinary birthday party, which honors for a single day and waits a year to adore again.
Can you remember the day you became a follower of Christ? The Holy Spirit entered you and His fruit made you new. People asked you what was different, and while some might have laughed, the point was that people noticed Him in you. But Scripture warned us that the life of a Christian would not be easy; enduring the race burdens and time makes us grow weary.
The annual Christmastide celebration can serve as a reminder of the hope, peace, love and joy given to the world when God sent us His Son, that we might not become complacent in our salvation. Dedicating the winter season to enacting the fruit of the Spirit snowballs us into a habit of giving, serving and becoming less (pardon the pun).
Rereading Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol” is one of my favorite holiday traditions, and Scrooge provides a perfect example of the Christmastide’s transformative power. After he has understood the ramifications of his miserly life, Scrooge begs deliverance from the grave, promising to honor Christmas in his heart, “and to keep it all year.” Dickens writes that Scrooge was better than his word:
“He became as good a friend, as good a master and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town or borough, in the good old world.” Scrooge becomes new, not for a season, but for an eternity.
I wish to emulate the new Scrooge, but I see myself in the reactions of his Christian friends—his employee, Bob Cratchit, and his nephew, Fred. In the early chapters of the story, both men make heartfelt cases to Scrooge on the importance of Christmas, to which Scrooge replies “humbug.” But in the end, when Scrooge arrives at his nephew’s house for Christmas dinner, his niece-in-law almost falls off her chair, and Fred cannot believe he’s come. When Bob Cratchit arrives late to work and Scrooge does not punish him but instead raises his salary, Bob considers knocking his boss down and putting him in a straitjacket.
As Christians, why are we ever surprised by the manifestation of Christ’s salvation and the spirit of Christmas? Is it because, though we believe in hope, peace, love and joy, we are not hopeful, peaceful, loving or joyful all year long?
Let us be like Scrooge and keep the Christmas spirit all year. Instead of the Holy Spirit catching us by surprise, let us expect His presence in all our seasons.