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Monday, December 17, 2007

Excitement for all the wrong reasons... Survivor vs. Christmas

Last night, I found myself getting excited.

I was watching the Season 15 finale of Survivor... easily one of my favorite shows... and a show I would love to be on but don't have the guts to try out for. It was the finale of this season, which always includes a 2 hour final episode and then the one hour reunion show where they bring back all those who were voted off plus the winner and they talk about various aspects of the season. It's always great fun.

But in the final 10 minutes of the reunion show, they always show a snipet of the next season. It is scheduled to be some new players versus some veteran players from previous seasons. But I found myself getting incredibly excited about the prospect of the new season.

Then this verse went through my head:
"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in a manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary pondered these things and treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told." Luke 2:16-20, NIV.

Obviously all those words didn't at the same time... that would be ludicrous. But the basic idea did. A couple of weeks ago, I used this section of Luke as a talk with our students about evangelism, especially in the Christmas season...

But last night as I thought about these words and my excitement over something, relatively speaking, as stupid as Survivor... I began to play with a very "sharp stick." (definition of a sharp stick: something fun to play with but is entirely capable of poking out your eye.)

I began to think about this: When was the last time that I got really excited about God the way that I just did about Survivor? Now, I want to avoid something here. I want to avoid that impression that that's somehow a cliche statement.

What I mean is this... we are right now in the throws of the craziest time of the year. All of our schedules are absolutely packed with so much stuff that must of us don't have time to sit down... much less have a real conversation with most people... or even direct our thoughts toward God and the Savior that He sent into this world.

Most of us are wrapped up in things that have very little meaning in the grander scheme of things... gifts... parties... cookies... shopping... traveling... wrapping gifts... checking lists... conversations leading to gifts... and more gifts...

Now, please don't get wrong... I really like gifts. I REALLY like gifts. But in the greater scheme of things, are gifts really what Christmas is all about?

But then, what happens in the Christian world... we turn the craziness of the holidays into something that we perceive to be more spiritual... time with families... time in church... reading the Christmas story (Luke 2... Matthew 2... Twas the Night Before Christmas)... taking digital pictures... not that any of those things are wrong either. I love time with my family, reading the Christmas story and taking pictures.

But somewhere in the midst of this holiday our amazement at the coming at Christ (Luke 2:7) and the second coming of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:16) are both lost. Either we're wrapped up in the gift-giving or we're wrapped up in the gift giving and we miss it all together.

As I said earlier, I find myself playing with this sharp stick. I'm not trying to add more noise to the holiday... Lord knows it has enough noise already... and I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad (again... I like spending time with family and I like opening gifts). But I feel like we're missing something GREAT for something good or worse yet... something worthless.

But I'm not sure what to do with all that. In this situation, the stick is poking me. I love Christmas. I really do. I'm not trying to come off like the Grinch or some charismatic preacher telling you shouldn't shop, buy presents or drink eggnog. That's not me at all.

But I guess I'm pointing the stick at me. I got incredibly excited last night about Season 16 of Survivor and immediately told everyone I could about it (although because of these thoughts, I managed to hold off the urge to blog about it). God sent his Son to this earth to be born in a manger, to die on a cross for my and your sins and to return a second time for his church, and I don't get as excited about that as I should or as I did about Survivor...

Just some thoughts...

Jim

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