If left to my own devices, there isn’t much Christmas in my heart.
Nothing within me looks forward to December. In my mind, this is a month that feels to me like forced-group-insanity.
- I don’t like to be told what to do. I don’t like to go along with the crowd.
- And I especially don’t like to do things mindlessly, or out of obligation.
- I don’t even like the colors red and green put together. Not at all.
None of these are admirable qualities. All of these hard-hearted, prideful tendencies are merely symptoms of a bigger problem within my stone-cold heart.
But then there is Jesus.
It is HIS birthday month. So this month, I am going to stop being irritated with all the commercialism and American excess. An excess I participate in myself but in different ways and flavors which I then carelessly rationalize away. Ways that are just as insane, as the ones I label “Christmas Craziness.”
Instead of putting up my annual lone protest, against this Good Thing called Christmas which sometimes gets a little out of hand… instead; I am going to remember.
Remember Jesus. He is God. Yet he chose to become man. For me. For you. For everyone.
You may not feel it.You may not believe it. But that doesn’t meant it’s any less true.
Nobody can convince you. (Except for Jesus.)
- If you want to believe that Christmas is so much more than the weeks of harried preparation, and over-spending, over-eating; over-indulging…
- If you want to believe that there has got to be something MORE than the over-everything which overwhelms everything; leaving you feeling empty by the end of this month…
- If you want to believe that there is something that will finally satisfy the deepest parts of your soul…
Why not give Jesus a chance? (At least for December.)
After all, it is HIS birthday month. Or technically speaking, it is the month we have chosen to put on the calendar to celebrate his birth.
I won’t try to convince you.
Because I am much more of an expert with pictures than with words, it’s my job to SHOW you. (Not tell you.)
So in the future, remember this as you look at any of my paintings:
- When you see the sunlight casting warm shadows onto a silky camellia blossom…
- When you feel the warmth of a perfect summer afternoon looking onto a peace-filled scene of water…
- When you hear the brushing noise of a gentle breeze stirring a perfectly ordered field of corn…
Remember this — that feeling you get is certainly not a result of me being good with a brush.
That feeling is from Jesus. Jesus pouring his Goodness into this hard-hearted, anxiety-ridden artist. A feeling of happiness that is so out of character with what should show up on the canvas, that it can’t be me conjuring it up.
The only explanation is Jesus. If you don’t know him in a way that allows you to talk with him like a safe and loving father, but are curious as to what that could feel like, then maybe just ask him to make himself real to you.
Based on my experience, I think it’s a safe bet that He he will answer.
Back to my hard heart. And Christmas.
Well now that I’ve reminded myself why Christmas is coming this month, the thought of it doesn’t seem so bad after all.
That’s the good thing about taking the time to sit and be quiet with your thoughts; taking time to listen.
My black mood broke when I listened to a recording of the song below — listening and hoping for some kind of inspiration. For a minute I could physically feel the ice in my heart begin to thaw. But it was only as I remembered. The goodness in my life.
Then I remembered Jesus and what he has done for me. And all of humanity.
Funny how music, and poetry, and pictures can touch the soul like nothing else.
Read it like you mean it. Not like you have sung it 8,973 times and already know what it is going to say. Read it like a story. Read it to remember — the story of Christmas. Written as as song, 249 years ago but still stirring even today.
Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful
By: John F. Wade
Oh, come, all ye faithful, Joyful and triumphant! Oh, come ye, oh, come ye to Bethlehem; Come and behold him Born the king of angels: Oh, come, let us adore him, Oh, come, let us adore him, Oh, come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
Highest, most holy, Light of light eternal, Born of a virgin, A mortal he comes; Son of the Father Now in flesh appearing! Oh, come, let us adore him, Oh, come, let us adore him, Oh, come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
Sing, choirs of angels, Sing in exultation, Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above! Glory to God In the highest: Oh, come, let us adore him, Oh, come, let us adore him, Oh, come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
Yea, Lord, we greet thee, Born this happy morning; Jesus, to thee be glory given! Word of the Father, Now in flesh appearing! Oh, come, let us adore him, Oh, come, let us adore him, Oh, come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
Hymn # 41 from Lutheran Worship • Composer: John F. Wade • Tune: Adeste Fideles • 1st Published in: 1767
To help you remember.
This green and red painting is full of life and peace and hope.
I don’t even know how. It just happened that way. I painted it seven years ago. Not ever once thinking about Christmas. Or Jesus.
But then yesterday, I chose it as my December calendar artwork. For no other reason than it was the most red and green thing I had painted that I hadn’t used already used these past six years of making monthly calendars.
It didn’t even say Christmas to me. Until somebody I love and respect deeply, told me it reminded him of Jesus. And how the king of the universe, chose to be born in a barn. For our sake.
Now THAT is something to remember.
Wishing you 31 days that include some reflection on Jesus. If you don’t know him, give him a chance.
PS To use the December calendar simply click on the image at the top of this post, download the file to a place you can easily find on your computer, and then set that file as your computer’s wallpaper (or desktop.) If you can’t figure it out, just ask the closest teenager. They know these things.