I don’t know if anyone else is like me, but holidays at the end of each year are a time of introspection and self examination. There are many times I have a love/hate relationship with holidays as I see the way they are often twisted and made into commercial events rather than something that will help me grow closer in my relationship with Christ.
Is giving thanks in my life a day set aside on the fourth Thursday in November? Or is it a way of life? Perhaps that day ought to remind me more and more each year that I do not give thanks to God for all of His blessings in my life as I should. I need to do that daily.
Is December a great time to celebrate the birth of Christ? The great news that “God became flesh and dwelt among us?” Or do I get too caught up in the other trappings of the holiday that I spend too much time and money on things that do not further the kingdom of God?
None of that is to say that I can’t honor God in the way I celebrate, or the gifts I buy, or even in decorations and lights and fellowship. In many ways I can honor God through those things and God can use them to draw people closer to himself.
Perhaps the biggest area of self examination for me is that I have to work harder at this time of year not to elevate other days (holidays) above the 52 holidays that God has given us in his Word. God has given us the Lord’s Day. He has given us an entire day each week to completely rest in Him. Anytime I place myself, my schedule, my desires, my recreation, even my celebration of other holidays, above what God has clearly told me in His Word, then those things become false idols in my life.
J. C. Ryle said, “Never be absent from God’s house on Sundays, without good reason,—never to miss the Lord’s Supper when administered in our own congregation,—never to let our place be empty when means of grace are going on, this is one way to be a growing and prosperous Christian. The very sermon that we needlessly miss, may contain a precious word in season for our souls. The very assembly for prayer and praise from which we stay away, may be the very gathering that would have cheered, and established, and quickened our hearts.”
How badly do we hurt ourselves when we are absent from that which we need most? How sinful of me if I allow Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Birthdays, or any other man-made day to cause me to neglect the weekly Lord’s Day. Hopefully as I continue to look at myself over the next few weeks I will allow these other “days” to give me a deeper appreciation for these weekly days of celebration.
In January the lights and the tree will be stored for another year. Many of the presents will be forgotten. But all week long I can look forward to celebrating the birth, death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord with God’s people as we gather together as the Church week after week after week in celebration. Oh what a foretaste of heaven it is when we gather with the saints of God!