But ultimately, I think we decorate in order to make a statement. Now I am not saying we do this consciously, but ultimately, I think this is what we are doing...and why we share it with others. We decorate because we want to show others that this matters to us...that it is important to us. Now I realize for some what they are saying matters is time with family, or the generosity embodied in Santa Claus, or the wonder and magic associated with this time of year. And those things are important to me too. But for those of us who recognize Jesus Christ as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords...as Our Creator and Savior...our statement ultimately should be...and needs to be...about Him.
More than anything, Christmas should be about the incredible, almost unbelievable, Love that God demonstrated through the gift of His Son. It is a time of declaring from the rooftops...and from our lawns, windows, and mantels that each of us are Loved...that each of us matters...and that ultimately...Love wins. Of all the days in the year, Christmas is the time we are given the most permission to speak of Him publicly, to share His Love with others openly and directly. It is a time when miracles and mysteries are celebrated...and hearts are the most willing to believe.
And because of this, I really believe that we need to be a bit bolder in our celebrating...and our decorating. We need to seize this opportunity and allow the message of Love...the true reason for this season (and all seasons)...to shine through.
Now, I don't say this to suggest that we need to bombard people with heavy messages of "repent and be saved" or that everyone needs to get a giant illuminated "Jesus is the Reason" sign for their yard (not that there is anything wrong with that). I still very much appreciate the wisdom of the adage often misattributed to St. Francis, "Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary." People generally don't like to be preached at, much less told they are sinful and need to be saved. So that isn't what I am suggesting. As I think Pope Francis has very powerfully argued, when we experience the true Love of God the Father, our failings, shortcomings, weaknesses, and flaws become apparent to us...and we desire repentance. In other words, once we know Love, then those things that are not rooted in Love become obvious...and we want to change them. The first step, however, is to feel Loved.
So my point here is that as we all embark on another Christmas season, we should consider how we are contributing to the message of God's Love that so permeates the Christmas Story. No doubt an important part of that is decorating. And while yes, this absolutely means decorating our lives...our attitudes...our spirits...with kindness and joy and generosity. It also means, I think, that we should make sure that along with all the other exterior, material symbols of Christmas, we are sure to include the most beautiful and powerful symbols of Christmas....those pointing explicitly to God's Gift...to God With Us...to a child in a manger. Who knows...maybe for some, the only opportunities they will have to "hear" that message is in the Nativity displayed in your front yard, or the star hung on your front door, or the Kneeling Santa displayed on your mantel. Ultimately, maybe these decorations will be the tool that God uses to pierce through whatever barriers are in a person's life and to carry His message of Love to that person. Maybe....just maybe...we should adapt that old adage and give it a Christmas flair: "Preach the Gospel at all times. Use Christmas Lights when possible."
And early Merry and Blessed Christmas to all of you!