They say the greatest deception the devil ever played on us was to convince us that he does not exist. If that is true, then I think the second greatest deception he has ever played on us is to convince us to look elsewhere to find him while he works quietly in the background.
I have worked through the Rejoice! devotional this Advent. The book is a walk through Advent through the eyes of Mary—the greatest player in Advent history (next to Christ)., the one who lived the actual, physical events we are walking through spiritually this season.
My goal at the beginning of this Advent season was to slow things down. I did everything I could this year to have all of my Christmas preparations done by the day after Thanksgiving so that I could enjoy this season with my children and husband. I did not want to feel rushed.
A Great Advent Devotional
And I have no problem admitting that this had no grand spiritual purpose. I just see my children aging, and I know Christmas will one day look very different for our family. I want to enjoy these days while they are here.
But when we open our ears to God, he whispers in, and if we are receptive, we just might learn something.
This is what has been happening to me thanks to this Advent devotional.
Nativity Scenes in the Public Square
The one thing I learned most from Mary’s journey is our need to listen. And if there is any one criterion to listening it is to first hear, and if we are to hear, we must be quiet. And when it comes to quieting our hearts for God, the most beneficial thing we can do is be still.
God doesn’t often scream at us. Sometimes we’ll get the cliché knock to the head, but in general, he wants us to come to him.
As I’m slowly realizing this, I’m realizing that the greatest threat to Christmas in America these days isn’t a secular desire to wipe it away. Perhaps the greatest threat isn’t in the words “happy holidays,” or the taking down of Nativity scenes in the public square.
Christmas Trees Aren’t Christmas
Perhaps the problem isn’t that our culture is trying to get rid of Christmas—perhaps the real problem is that our culture is trying too hard to take over Christmas and change it into something that it was never meant to be.
The greatest threat to Christmas is the growing idea that the true meaning of Christmas is about family and children and presents and Christmas concerts and Christmas cookies and Christmas cards. We can scream “Merry Christmas” as loudly as we want in the face of those who insist on Happy Holidays. We can sign petitions and write to our government leaders to display Nativity scenes wherever we want. But if we do it all as we are rushing off to our next Christmas party, and keep running and doing until our weary heads hit the pillow at night—with no time to reflect, or to pray, or to thank God for the miracle of the Incarnation—then what good is it all in the end?
Maybe we can have Santa and Christmas trees and cookies throughout the entire USA and still have a country completely devoid of Christmas.
Like anything though, we can think about it and lament it and write about it, but the only thing that will truly do any good is for us as individuals to change it in our own hearts.
The true holy spirit of Christmas can only be celebrated in our hearts and our minds. It can’t exist out there unless it first exists inside of our souls. And like most things of importance, it can best be taught and passed on in our own living rooms as we shut out the world and invite the Lord in.
I do believe God wants us to fight to keep him alive in our culture, but we can’t let the devil convince us that this is the only fight worth waging. We must remember that God must live inside of our hearts. Christmas must be protected in our homes before we can worry about what is going on out there.
So next time we go out into the world to prepare for or participate in another Christmas tradition, let’s take a few moments to quiet our hearts and listen for the Lord. I am convinced he is speaking if we will only listen.
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About Amanda Knapp
Amanda Knapp is a wife, mother, writer, reader, and knitter. She spends most of her time looking after her four young daughters who daily inspire her to pray deeper and love more fiercely. She blogs about life and faith at indisposablemama.com