Like many of you, I'm already behind on my Christmas preparation. We still have Thanksgiving leftovers in the refrigerator, and the fall wreath is on the front door. There are so many things that I have to do on my list to get prepared for the chaos of Christmas.
How about you? Are you prepared for Christmas Chaos? Christmas Chaos is the force behind all the decorations, busy schedules, and total insanity that so quickly deflates the Christmas season. Perhaps you’re not familiar with Christmas Chaos. Here’s a quick video to help explain the experience.
I admit that on the surface, it t feels a bit weird to combine chaos with Christmas, but "chaos" has always been a standard definition of the unknown and unpredictable. And in the Bible, chaos is experienced as wilderness. Put another way, the experience of Christmas chaos becomes the tricky and confusing part of the season where we're like Charlie Brown, and we just don't understand Christmas at all.
Sound familiar? Sadly, Charlie Brown often summarizes our experience of Christmas. It is as if we've tried to get ready for a holiday instead of preparing ourselves for a "holy day"—where God becomes one of us to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
Though it’s a cartoon, accompanied by cool jazz music, Charlie Brown’s story of searching for an answer to why he always feels depressed around Christmas is similar to our situations. With a little help from his friends, Charlie Brown learns that Christmas is really about the miracle of Jesus’ birth—where the invisible God of the universe became visible in a way that we could see and experience directly. Charlie Brown resolved his Christmas chaos because he learned how to prepare for an encounter with the Holy One.
Unfortunately, preparing for an encounter with the Holy One isn’t at the top of our Christmas lists. I imagine that most of us are probably more interested in singing Christmas carols, buying gifts, and baking Christmas cookies to get into the Christmas spirit than meeting the Holy One. Besides, we’ve become more comfortable with the period of frenetic activity, a time when people are trying to juggle work, an increase in social obligations, shopping, decorating, wrapping, entertaining and staying on budget.
Preparing to encounter the Holy One during Christmas chaos is countercultural. It is as strange as a message calling from the wilderness—the place of withdrawal, retreat, preparation, testing, and ultimately where we meet God. Preparing for an encounter in the wilderness for Christmas invites us "to change"—to turn around and walk in a new direction, or to put it in biblical language: to repent.
So as Charlie Brown discovered, Christmas is about change—changing our values and priorities, changes in our attitudes, and changing the way we treat one another. But what changes are we supposed to make to prepare ourselves for Christmas?
For some of us, it is working too hard. For others, it is also much ambition. Still, for others, it is personal hostility, resentment, and hatred that we refuse to let go. And finally, for a small percentage, it is too much religion in the form of being "holier than thou" and self-righteousness. Below, I've listed four areas where an encounter with the Holy One can help us to change and cure our holiday blues:
Deal with Unrealistic Expectations.
Avoid Undue Financial Pressure.
Slow Down from a Busy Schedule.
Accept that Family Conflict is Normal.
These are some of the things that cause Christmas chaos and there are probably many others. The Christmas season doesn’t have to be a chaotic time where we feel overextended continuously. It can be a time of joy, a time when we experience a profound sense of the Holy One in our lives, and a time when we connect with our loved ones on a deeper level. And as Linus Van Pelt tells Charlie Brown in that classic 1965 animated classic, “That’s what Christmas is all about.”
On the Journey,
Technology and Digital Ministry