FLASHBACK FRIDAYS: WEEK 28 (The Spirit Of Christmas by Michael W. Smith, and Christmas Stories: Repeat The Sounding Joy by Jason Gray)- Why Celebrating Christmas early is a good thing!

Have you ever groaned when you hear Christmas music being played at shopping centres around September or October time every year? Yeah, I groan sometimes too. Have you wished that we celebrated Christmas around December time and not wished our year away? Yeah I wish that too. But, such is the world that we live in, that Christmas, and in fact any public holiday for that matter, is commercialised and turned into a shopping fest as its centrepiece instead of the birth of Jesus (or the death and resurrection of Jesus for Easter, or any other meaningful message) as it should be. There’s probably nothing that we can do to change it, but there is something that we can do to respond to it.

Now I know what you’re thinking- why am I writing a Flashback Friday’s Christmas post when Christmas is two months away. Aren’t I adding fuel to the fire of commercialism by writing this post? And yeah I guess you could be right in some aspects. I mean no one wants to be reminded of an event two months in the future, even if said event is eternally significant, as it means we keep wishing for that thing to happen, and time to move quickly, as opposed to living each moment in the present. In some regards, listening to Christmas music can be seen as subconsciously wishing our day away, our week away, and even our whole year away, even if we don’t realise it. I’ve just noticed this realisation today as I was reviewing Matt Maher’s new album The Advent Of Christmas, and it got me thinking ‘why are people in such a hurry to start ‘celebrating’ something that some of them don’t even believe in?’ I’m not talking about the people who really believe Christmas, but the people who believe more in the commercial aspect of Christmas… and I was pondering and thinking, with the answer being as plain as day on a blog I wrote a couple of years back. So I will quote verbatim the whole blog, then finish off this blog (yeah it is over- my shortest blog ever I reckon!) and let you dwell upon some pearls of wisdom even I never knew I wrote.

“…Something happens around Christmas time. As the year draws to a close, and December 25th comes rolling around (it actually has rolled around- in fact as I write this, it’s now December 28th…), we, either as Christians or those who observe Christmas not because of the faith aspect but because of the family one; start to become more generous. Have you noticed it? We start shopping and act a little kinder to strangers. We help more at the grocery store. We are more courteous and polite, more emotive and empathetic, more encouraging and reassuring. We say the words ‘merry Christmas’ to our fellow man (do we really mean the words though? But that is reserved for another post entirely!), and during the December period, we aim to at least maybe support one charity, go the church more often, try to detach ourselves from social media, and maybe, just maybe, love our enemies a bit more. But what happens once the year ends and we’re faced with New Year’s Day the next year?

I reckon people are more habitual than they themselves think. I know, it may be me jumping the gun a bit, and being over presumptuous and stereotypical, but I think that when it all comes down to it, do we really stop and think about what Jesus has done for us this Christmas and every Christmas. The reason why we all can celebrate the holiday and live in the freedom and knowledge that we have eternal life, is because of Jesus coming the Earth in a manger, and living life as a human, up until the age of 33 where He began His ministry, embarking on the journey that ultimately resulted in His death and resurrection, saving us all from our sin and reuniting us with God our Father and Saviour. When everything is stripped away, we ought to realise that Christmas is a holiday that needs to be celebrated to the full, and with reverence to our Creator. When we each look within ourselves, can we say with 100% certainty that we acknowledge this fact on December 25th more than we currently do?

If I were to ask you to describe your Christmas and what you normally do, then maybe I’d receive a half an hour in depth description about which type of turkey each family member enjoys the most, or about which present gets reused over and over the years despite no family member actually enjoying it. Or which carols you and your family would like to sing the most. Simply put, everyone’s Christmas celebrations are different. But what probably stays constant, and is something people across all faiths I reckon agree with, is that innate desire to spend Christmas with family, and the notion that we can be a better person than we are right now. It’s as if Christmas is a time where we mostly do become better versions of ourselves, but after New Year’s Day, the ‘good’ inside us becomes dormant again. At least until 364 days later, when it’s Christmas again… Why is that so?

Rather than rip into society for being chameleons and acting one way during the most special holiday of the year, and like another during the other days of the year, I will just leave you with three songs that speak about the season and living our life in accordance to the belief that Jesus was born for us and died for us for every day of our life, not just the days in December. Jason Bare’s “Christmas All The Time”, Josh Wilson’s “Once A Year” and Unspoken’s “Christmas Everyday” each speck to me in many different facets about the notion of living life like it’s Christmas all the time, so I would encourage you to listen to these tracks, and see what God wants you to do for the year ahead. Is it really to act like Scrooge and count money? Be insular and only give to our neighbours and those in need only when it suits us? Or is it to be the hands and feet of Jesus to everyone around us no matter the day or time of the year? Something to ponder about as we come to the end of 2016…”

Have you all finished reading what I wrote 2 years ago? Let me update it a bit more for the purposes of this blog. I reckon we all want to start celebrating Christmas earlier and earlier, because at some level, even the most Scrooge-like person wants to be kind to others, as we strive to be better people- and Christmas is one way where we can act kinder, and not have people we know and love stare at us in the face and think we’re crazy for acting in a way we don’t normally act. Thus comes the crux of my blog and it is this- as I was reviewing Matt Maher’s new Christmas album and thinking about why Christmas is promoted so early, I realised that we as humans on probably the most subconscious level know that Jesus is Lord and Saviour, and that is why our spirit longs to celebrate Jesus all the time, hence Christmas being promoted and celebrated earlier and earlier. I know, I know, it’s a bit of a conspiracy, but I reckon that when you stop and dwell upon the fact, you’ll find that it’s not a bad thing. Well the part about wishing away your years is, but if we can arrest that part of celebrating Christmas and focus on the true meaning, then I guess celebrating Christmas early is more than ok.

As you can tell I haven’t come to the album/s I would like to share with you this week, so let me do that briefly. Michael W. Smith’s The Spirit Of Christmas and Jason Gray’s Christmas Stories: Repeat The Sounding Joy are two of the most ‘complete’ Christmas albums I have ever heard, and two of the most inspiring Christmas projects I’ve ever heard. It’s be wrong to speak about these albums over such a short time because these albums are so rich that talking about them would go for pages and pages, and no one with a tight schedule (everyone) has enough time in one sitting for reading that- so I’ll just point you to reviews we’ve posted here and here. But let me tell you- listen to these songs this Christmas (or now…) because they will change your life. Michael W. Smith singing orchestral covers of Christmas favourites with his friends (and there are a lot of guest vocalists here!) and Jason Gray singing original Christmas songs (yep- it’s an entire album of around 90% all original material!); what more could you want?

What are the traditions you follow around Christmas time? When do you put up your tree, and when do you listen to Christmas music? Are you a believer of Jesus coming to earth as a baby in a manger, or do you only celebrate Christmas for the commercial and/or the family aspect? Let us know in the comments below!

Enjoy your week guys, until next time!

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