The other day, I was listening to A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I was struck by what was written about Scrooge after his visits from the three ghosts. Dickens writes that Scrooge began to "keep Christmas" better than anyone. Instead of living in contempt of Christmas, Scrooge brought Christmas into everyday life throughout the year. Scrooge was no longer blind to the needs of those around him nor hard to their plight and thence a hoarder of his money; he became a man who generously gave to those in need. He was no longer the grumpy, terrifying old man but became a man filled with joy who was loved by all.
I was greatly challenged by old Ebeneezer's actions. What does it look like in my life to "keep Christmas" throughout the year? It probably doesn't mean that our tree and other decor needs to stay up all year long; and it probably doesn't mean that I have to go Christmas shopping every month. But what about bringing joy to those around me through other means? Maybe it's by baking cookies for a neighbor or inviting others into our home for a meal, games and fellowship. Maybe it's by asking the Lord to soften my heart towards the needy around me and giving generously to them, no matter the cost to myself. Maybe it's intentionally spending more time in His Word, focused on a specific passage like we so often do with the Christmas accounts. Maybe it is simply taking time to sit back and ponder the incredible, miraculous reality of God's love towards us.
As we consider how to "keep Christmas", I think Paul has some good, practical ways that we can bring that Christmas spirit into every month of the year:
"Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly." - Romans 12:9-16
"Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." - Galatians 6:9-10I don't usually make New Year's resolutions. But this year, my goal is to "keep Christmas" better than anyone, just like Scrooge. By living out those passages of Scripture (and many, many more), I hope to bring the joy of Christmas to those around me every day of the year. Because really, the joy of Christmas is Jesus Himself, and He cannot be contained in a single month. Although I'm not quite sure how it will look, I'm excited to see what the Lord has in store for my keeping Christmas throughout 2012.
So. This is Christmas. What have you done? And what will you do?