The Christmas Season - A Friend's Blog
Just read a friend of mine, Matt Anderson’s, blog on this coming Christmas season - thought it to be funny and insightful so here it is. Enjoy!
“From time to time in my weekly correspondence, I like to write about seasons. By that, I do not necessarily mean the four established seasons of our calendar. I’m talking about seasons of life that we live in and through that are mostly beyond the scope of our control. They can be biological (childhood, adolescence, adulthood), professional (minimum-wage jobs, entry level, middle management, executive), familial (child, teenager, single, married, parent, grandparent), or spiritual. Today I’m focusing on the "artificial”. Most notably, what we have called The Christmas Season.
Talk about a nebulous concept! Want to get a healthy discussion going? Ask, “When does The Christmas Season officially begin?" When I was a kid (and I’m over forty, so I can use phrases like that), hardly a piece of tinsel could be seen until Thanksgiving. Nowadays, waiting for the turkey carving puts one at the middle or back of the line in Yuletide preparation. No doubt with the aid of retail stores, the season seems to get earlier each year. Unofficially, I would say it’s November 1. Not that I want it to start that early. Seems like kids are just getting to work on eating their trick-or-treat candy when radio stations begin 24-hour Christmas music programming. Seriously? Autumn is only a month in, and I’m getting Perry Como, Nat King Cole, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Mannheim Steamroller thrust in my face. Nothing against them, but we’re still getting sixty-degree temperatures. Shouldn’t more layers be required for Christmas music?
Of course, just today I noticed downtown businesses being decorated in greenery and red bows. Starbucks wheeled out their Christmas blend for purchase today. Plans are actively being made for family get-togethers and church holiday events. It all happens so fast, doesn’t it? And no matter how deeply I dig in my heels, it all seems to be whirring past me without my permission.
If only I had people to aid me in my quest. But so many are buying in to the whole premise. They are decorating their homes right after Election Day while I’m hoping my neighbors will just pull their "Vote For” signs from their front lawns. Others triumphantly shout that their Christmas shopping is complete while I’m trying to figure out who is even on my list. I am not ready for this! Why are department stores and radio stations making me look like Ebenezer driving the Bah-Humbug Express? It’s not that I am down on Christmas. It’s just that once it starts, there is no going back, and I have to be mentally ready for that. I’m not ready yet. Still, I know I will be prematurely dragged against my will by circumstance and societal pressure to ride in a one-horse open sleigh before I am ready.
Funny thing about seasons. We have no control as to when they begin or when they end. God usually has to drag us from one to the other. He knows our penchant for the familiar and accompanying desire to remain still. Seasons can change with a promotion, firing, diagnosis, tragedy, windfall, or transfer. One consistency among seasonal shifts seems to be gain or loss. When God gives or takes away, it usually means a season change, whether we’re ready or not. If we are not grounded in Godly confidence and provision, each divinely-directed shift will leave us angrier than the Grinch waiting in line at the Motor Vehicle Bureau.
Understand this: God will take us from the familiar before we are ready. We need to be alert for the shifting of winds and sands and trust that it is always about progress instead of punishment. In Acts 8, we see that Philip was taken from a thriving revival in Samaria to journey into desolation, “As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, ‘Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza’” (Acts 8:26, NLT). That’s it. No explanation. No, “It will make sense when you get there." Just, "Go to the desert alone and wait." How could anyone be ready for that?
Maybe you believe you have been "promoted” to Death Valley by the Lord. Before you get too angry and start a bonfire with yule logs, remember that there is something to be learned and/or accomplished in this place. It may not be grandiose or prosperous or magnanimous. In fact, it may be humble or completely insignificant to others. But it is something that will grow you and expand the Kingdom. For Philip, it was a “random” eunuch in a chariot reading the book of Isaiah. He was led to Christ and, according to reputable sources, brought the gospel to Ethiopia because of his interaction with Philip. What we think is regression is Godly progression if we just stay alert within the season. Don’t fight it; embrace it. Something eternal is about to happen in and through your life.
Even as I write this article, a Starbucks employee is applying a winter snowflake decal to the front windows of the store. He says I’m going to have to move so he can put one on the window next to me. Looks like I am being moved against my will yet again. Oh well. Fa la la la la la la la la!“