#ThinkingTuesday – Change your thinking; Change your life.
This week’s quote is from Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States:
“ Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world.”
— Calvin Coolidge
In one Peanuts comic strip, Lucy says Christmas is a time for kindness and a time to forgive one another. To this Charlie Brown responds: “Why do that just at Christmas? Why can’t we have the Christmas spirit the rest of the year?” Lucy looks at Charlie and says, “What are you, some kind of religious fanatic?“
Yes, Oh Yes, because only a religious fanatic would suggest we celebrate christmas all year, isn’t it? However, comical this conversation intended to be, it does beg the question: What is the spirit behind christmas? and is there any reason not to have it all year?
For some people the Christmas spirit is an attitude of happiness found in the fellowship of friends. Or the party spirit while consuming 10 to 15 million turkeys. For many the Christmas spirit is one of increased depression because all that is wrong in life is measured against the celebration at the time and seems more profoundly painful.
For others it’s a time for saying thanks for basic things. G.K. Chesterton said, “When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings with toys at Christmas, why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?”
At Christmas most of the the world is so busy with celebration that they ignore why we have Christmas at all. We often don’t stop to consider the real meaning of what Christmas is actually for. So many focus on the presents they will give or get, ignoring Jesus – the greatest gift of all.
Christmas, should be a celebration of the birth of of Jesus
What is the true spirit of Christmas? Is it fun? Is it fellowship? Is it giving? What is it?
When Mary finds out she’s pregnant with the Jesus, she sings a song — an interesting one that really illustrates the spirit behind Christmas. Mary demonstrates to us that the spirit of christmas is not the spirit of family bonding, or the spirit of giving, or even the spirit of rejoicing. All of those things are well and good, but Mary teaches us that the true spirit of Christmas is a spirit of humility and worship.
The spirit of Christmas in all the participants in the first Christmas was praise and thanks and blessing and glory to God. In one word, that is worship. The Angels & Shepherds worshipped; the wise men came from the east saying, “We are come to worship him.” Even Herod picked up on the spirit of the event and asked where the child was born, “That I may come and worship him also.” Everybody was worshiping.
Although Herod told a lie, he did understand the appropriate attitude was to worship. This is the spirit of Christmas and it is the supreme theme of Christmas for Christians as we celebrate the birth of our savior.
Worship, to give a brief definition, is a state of mind. It is a spirit, something on the inside. An attitude of the heart so filled with wonder and gratitude at what God has done that there is not a thought of personal needs or personal blessings, only total abandonment to God in praise and adoration, and that’s exactly how Mary reacted to the news of Christ’s birth in Luke 1:46-55. She worshipped in abandon.
Christmas = Worship = A State Of Mind
It can become so easy to get caught up in life, give monetarily and forget the true spirit of Christmas. The attitude of Christmas is something we should carry with us all year, not just in December.
There are many ways to worship but our best gift to others, and the best gift we can give to ourselves, is to pay attention, to listen to the voice of God, and to give ourselves to others. The spirit of Christmas is a time to worship Christ through personal abandon, by making time for others and for those in need.
Our worship must be internal too, that is why it is a state of mind. We can’t just do it and then forget all about it till next year. In fact, an external shallow observance of the birth of Christ is distasteful to God. Superficial worship finds no place of acceptance with him. Isaiah 29:13 says, “People draw near me with their mouth and with their lips.” To put this in Christmas vernacular, it would say:
They talk about me, they put things about me on their Christmas cards and they sing my carols, but they do not honor me. They have removed their heart from me.
God is a spirit and they that worship him must start by worshiping him in spirit and in truth. The true worshipper is the one whose heart is devoted, the one whose heart is overflowing. It comes from deep down inside and therefore goes on all the time.
Worship is not only internal, worship is intentional.
It rises from what the heart comprehends. It rises from what the mind understands. The attitude of worship is internal, intense, habitual and fourthly, and here is really the key one – it is humble. True worship only comes from a humble heart. A humble heart is a heart that has no thought for itself. Pride is the worship of self and it competes with God.
If you are not thankful, it’s not because God hasn’t fulfilled his promise, it’s because your comfort level isn’t where you want it, and that’s because you are focused on you.
Mary ends her song of worship with this great stanza, what can I give him, poor as I am, if were a shepherd I would give him a lamb. If I were a wiseman, I would do my part. But what can I give him? Give my heart. That’s worship. John Francis Wade who died in 1786 who summed it all up in the simple words,
Oh come, let us adore him. Oh come let us adore him. Oh come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
What the Lord requires of us this Christmas and at all times can also be summed up in Micah 6:8,
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
Several countries are filled with war and suffering, so we must cherish the peace we have in our hearts and do our best to share it with others. We must show mercy and good will in our actions, walking humbly in all that we do.
In the end, it is just as Former President Calvin Coolidge instructs, “To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world.”
Not just born for us as we were discussing yesterday, but born in us daily, which is better and far more important. If we think on these things and carry the attitude of Christmas all year, we’ll have the saviour born in our hearts as our mindset and through this God will use the saviour in us to save the world. Our light shouldn’t shine only at Christmas. If we make the values of christmas our mindset, our light will shine always, like stars before men, just as God commands in His word, sending a gleam of hope to all the world.
Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.
— Mary Ellen Chase.