Yesterday was Christmas! It was a great day for the family, a great day of travel, and a great Christmas service at church. The sermon was fantastic – it always is in my eyes (my huz is the pastor, but objectively speaking – he is one of the best). In addition an inspiring sermon, though, was a thought-provoking advent meditation. I asked the author/speaker if I could share his thoughts in my blog today, and he agreed.
Ben Sonquist is a science teacher who also has a great mind for theology; he and my huz have attended conferences about science and theology together. He and his wife Amy are the Sunday School teachers for my children’s class as of January 8, and I am thrilled! They have three sons who helped him out with the Scripture reading yesterday. Thank you, Ben, for sharing your thoughts on my blog today!
Christmas is supposed to be a happy time, but I have a tendency to be a real Grinch.
A big part of my Scroogly ways has to do not with Christmas itself but with everything that leads up to Christmas. You could say my problem with Christmas is advent.
The beginning of the advent season marks the beginning of the angst season for me. Between scheduling the family visits, getting the kids here and there, budgeting gifts, and the barrage of holiday related commercials my focus quickly shifts to what’s wrong with Christmas rather than what’s right.
Over the advent season we have heard sermons and testimonies with themes like: Be the Light, Make the Most of Every Opportunity, Be Missionally Minded and Be the Miracle. These have been excellent reminders for me and have acted in a way that corrects my Christmas course.
Another reminder has come in reading The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis. The letters are written from the perspective of a demon that is mentoring his nephew demon on how to corrupt his human patient. The book is set in 1940’s England but it might as well have been written about me today.
In the 11th letter Screwtape (the elder more experienced demon) reprimands his nephew for trying to leverage common fun things for corrupting his patient. In his reprimand he describes the danger of fun. (Remember this is written from the demons perspective)
Fun is closely related to Joy—a sort of emotional froth arising from the play instinct. It is very little use to us. It can sometimes be used, of course, to divert humans from something else which the Enemy would like them to be feeling or doing: but in itself it has wholly undesirable tendencies; it promotes charity, courage, contentment, and many other evils.
Screwtape is wary of fun because he recognizes that everything that is good comes from God and fun is good.
Christmas, and everything that leads up to it, is fun. Visiting family is fun. Giving and receiving gifts is fun. Even commercials on TV are fun. Screwtape knew that the pure joy in these is dangerous but they can also be twisted to distract us from our Father’s (his enemies) will.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 says: Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
During Christmas I need to remember to be joyful even when I don’t feel like it because there is a lot of fun to be had. During Christmas I need to pray continually because even though everything that is good comes from God it is easy to lose sight of that. During Christmas I need to give thanks because I have been blessed with so much and it is all from God. And I need to do all of this because it is God’s will for me, and you, in Christ Jesus.