Christmas: Just Believe! Hello Hump Day friends and family. Well ‘tis the season’ is on full display from decorated homes to gas stations, to corporate buildings and of course box stores. The other day our USP, FedEx and Amazon vans were decked out with Christmas decorations! Our neighbors’ horses have red garland around their necks, and the fire station has a beautiful star way up in the sky. Yep, when it comes to getting ready for Christmas, we Americans have no problem in “bringing it on!”

I don’t have a problem with decorations, but my heart often wonders what people really believe about Christmas. Is it the gifts, the decorations, the food that make this season so jolly, or is it about a Child in a Manger? In other words, who gets priority here! Let’s face it, in our society it is so easy to not only get swept away, but get sucked in—and often we embrace a belief that isn’t healthy at all.

This reminds me of a few stories that my Smithsonian magazine shared recently. I chose two of the five stories because I just had to laugh out loud…enjoy!

Way back in 1883 in Allentown, New Jersey, a wooden Indian—the kind you’d see in front of a cigar shop—was placed on the ballot for Justice of the Peace under the fictitious name of Abner Robbins. When the ballots were counted, Abner won over the incumbent by seven votes. And in 1938, the name Boston Curtis appeared on the ballot for a Republican Precinct Committeeman position in Wilton, Washington. Boston Curtis, however, was a mule, and was sponsored by the town mayor to demonstrate how little people knew about their candidates. The mayor’s point was proven when the mule won! The mayor then got on his bullhorn and asked “what beliefs do you really have for our elections?” I couldn’t find any backlash at the mayor or if they kept the mule in office, but obviously people were easily duped.

I find this gullibility often at Christmas time. People buy the decorations, the gifts—often with money they don’t have—and all the other trappings that they feel will make Christmas real—something to believe in.  Sadly, the trappings rarely including anything about the Messiah! Yet, that is why we have Christmas and, in this season, as Christians, we have opportunities to share our beliefs in the Messiah and spread the good news of eternal life this baby in the manger came to give us. The words of Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20 [MSG] gives us this job:

“God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”

So what is our commission in this Advent to Christmas season? I think we need a renewed commitment to discipleship by digging into the story of Messiah, asking ourselves what this truly means to us and how it has impacted our faith and lives. Instead of immersing in the glitz and glitter, take the time to immerse yourself in prayer, in the wonderful songs of Christmas, the joy of seeing a nativity, even looking up for that star that still guides us today.

If we would look at Christmas the way it truly happened, we would see strife, we would see deception from Herod, we would see how God changed the lives of shepherds and wise men from the East. We would see the humility in God’s Son born in a feeding trough with animals to keep Him warm. We’d encounter Mary and Joseph’s faith despite their trials. This is the truth of Christmas; it is the belief we never want to swap out for the craziness of what the season has sadly become.

Spiritual ignorance can creep into our lives so quickly, just like the wooden Indian and the Mule. When that happens our faith takes upside-down turns and switch-backs instead of the right path God wants us on. Perhaps this Christmas is the time to tone it down, and focus on the Messiah and, without anything else in the way, we truly can enjoy the season and just believe! AMEN.