Monday, December 23, 2013

BookPastor >> "In Search of the Real Spirit of Christmas" (Dan Schaeffer)

TITLE: In Search of the Real Spirit of Christmas
AUTHOR: Dan Schaeffer
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 2003, (208 pages).

What is the Christmas Spirit? Is it about giving presents or seeing the sign of Santa and reindeers? What about decorating Christmas trees and the food around the dinner table? Is that what Christmas is all about? Intrigued with all the big shopping frenzy and the numerous arguments back and forth about the religious significance of this annual day, author and pastor Dan Schaeffer helps us to reflect more meaningfully on the different symbols and purposes of Christmas. At the heart of the book is the conviction that without a real sense of Christmas and what it is all about, we will all be impoverished year on year, going through the motions of trying to make Christmas meaningful, but regretfully always falling short. Any fun-filled expectation seems busy on the outside but empty on the inside. Even Christians are not immune. In the search for the real Spirit of Christmas, Schaeffer has the following to say:
  • We should not just read about the story of Christmas. We ought to "put ourselves" into it.
  • Learn to imagine how Jesus laid in the dirty manger while our modern babies are delivered in a posh and modern hospitals;
  • Think of the humble and simple way Jesus was born, and compare it to the huge medical facilities we enjoy.
  • As we remember the nativity image, think of what it all means.
  • Christmas is not so much our search for God, but God's search for us!
  • Christmas is not just for friends or family. It is for all, just like Christ came for the whole world.
  • Think about the Christmas gifts and the persons behind the gift. Compare the giving to the way God gives us Jesus.
  • If Jesus is coming to our modern city and lifestyle, how would he be treated?
  • Are we more receivers or givers? Think how love can be the background of receiving and giving.
  • Beware of the Christmas grinches, and learn to pray for them, and not despise them
  • The world presents a wooden, a plastic, a cloth, or an artificial Jesus. God gives us a real person.
  • The Spirit of Christmas may not be a material thing. It is something much more. It is the giving our ourselves and our gifts are to reflect a part of us that we want to share.
  • ...
Observing the festival year on year has kept Schaeffer himself searching for a deeper meaning behind the increasingly commercialized and secularized day. While arguments continue to mount for and against the use of Christ in Christmas, it is important to remember that God is able to defend himself. God is able to make himself known to anyone at anytime. As we try to put back "Christ" in the word "Christmas," we must not forget to put "Christ" back in the word "Christian."

Schaeffer has eloquently put together a great set of reflections and questions to help us appreciate the real spirit of Christmas. For too long, we have focused on attention on the temporal instead of the eternal. Some of us see Christmas and the rituals surrounding the shopping spree as some kind of a magical potion to keep ourselves fulfilled. Sadly we have forgotten that Christmas is about an Omnipotent God in Christ. Christmas is about Jesus who is Omniscient, who is Omnipresent, who is all righteous and holy. Whether we sing carols, go to Church, buy gifts for the poor, treat our family well, or enjoying some Christmas program, we need to learn to think back on that beautiful day when the baby was born in a manger. This act of remembrance is an annual ritual that will increase in meaning as we learn to train our minds on the Giver behind any giving or receiving of gifts.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


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