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Monday, December 14, 2009

Too Joyful for Fatigue

I have Christmas fatigue. My son has decided he loves Christmas music - the popular stuff a couple of radio stations are currently playing 24/7. I am thrilled that he has a love for music and so I happily switch to those radio stations when he's in the car with me. And when we are in the kitchen. And when we play with his toy cars and toy super heroes. Yes, he's listening to "Rockin around the Christmas tree" and "Jingle Bell Rock" every waking moment. Thus he hears the songs over and over and soon knows them well. Then he gets excited because a familiar song comes on.

So, I have Christmas fatigue. I love the parties because it means I am with people and I am an extrovert and I am relational. Plus, there's a lot of food. I could go to Christmas parties every day of the week. But, I am tired of "Jingle Bell Rock"; I am tired of watching the same Christmas movie my family insists on watching every single year at Thanksgiving. I am tired of all Christmas movies and I am tired sentiment. And Christmas cards. And green and red.

Don't get me wrong, I am not a scrooge. I am not in a crabby mood. I haven't shouted "humbug" at anyone. I am usually wearing a smile, a genuine, heartfelt smile. There are too many blessings in our town, in our church, and in my family to be a sourpuss. I don't want to skip Christmas, just the hoo-ha, the frivolous build-up.

I also have Job fatigue. I thought about writing a column entitled "What would Job put on his Christmas list?" I expect that in 2010, I'll read as much about Job as I have in 2009. I'll probably blog less about that particular book of the Bible, but my interested in that book of the Bible has not waned. I just need a break. There are probably myriad points where Job and Christmas intersect. I just can't see them right now.

So, that's Job fatigue and Christmas fatigue; I could probably come up with a few others, but I want to share something I am surprisingly not tired of. I am not tired of scriptures texts dealing with the coming of Christ. This is the 13th year I have preached through Advent and Christmas. That is a lot of sermon prep related to Luke 1-2 and Matthew 2 and the prophecies in Zephaniah, Micah, Isaiah, and the Psalms. In many years past, I have stared at Mary's Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) and thought "what can I say about this that hasn't been said 1000 times before?" Writing Advent sermons was a labor where preaching (and sermon writing) is usually an unparalleled joy.

But not this year! I have found unexpected renewal in texts I have studied for nearly a decade and a half. What is it about my life now that finds such freshness in Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, and John the Baptist? I am not altogether sure. Life circumstances constantly change as one grows older. In recent years I have become much more of a reader and traveled to new places. I hope that my spirit is growing, maturing in Christ, and I am more able to hear the Holy Spirit. The gift (and the difficulty) of growing in the Spirit is one finds how little one truly knows and how immature one truly is.

I wish for you a merry Christmas. More than that I wish for you a word from the Holy Spirit so that the words of Matthew and Luke and the Psalms and the prophets will be new and enlivening. I have found joy and excitement in the Bible like I never have before. That is what I wish for you, dear reader. Thank you for reading my writings in 2009 and for your feedback, your encouragement, and your witness as you follow Jesus in your life. May 2010 be a year in which together, we see the scriptures come alive in our lives as we serve the Lord and love the world in His name.


  1. There is a lot of Christmas fatigue in our culture because we put so much pressure on ourselves at this time. What if I don't feel jolly? I'd like to start by going green and not putting up a lot of energy burning lights and leaving the trees to soak up CO2. Let's just use nativity scenes as our only decorations. Bah Humbug! And we could just stick with worship as the reason for the season.

  2. Speaking of Christmas fatigue, It made me think about your point along a different line. Why are we fatigued with "pressures" and stress? How can any of that be of God? Aren't many of our Christmas stresses based on "worldly" expectations and ideals? (Families "must" get together. We "must" buy presents. We "must" decorate.
    Just what if Christmas is not pleasing to God at all?
    After a whole lot of soul searching (and reading), I am beginning to completely question the validity of the Christian celebrating Christmas.
    What if we can't put "Christ" back into Christmas because he was never there to begin with? Have we not essentially taken a pagan festival and prettied it up with Christian symbols? (a manger, and "Joy to the world"). How truly different is a Christian's celebration of Christ to that of someone that is unsaved. I would say, not significant at all.
    And despite our best efforts, the world continues to reject the Christian theme of Christmas. Wouldn't it be more pleasing to God and more Christian if we were to focus on celebrations and festivals that are seperate from the world and ones that actually have precedence in Scripture? What celebrations and festivals do you think that God would say are ones that we should honor?