Only Jesus Remains– 6.Christmas Changed

by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro copyright 2020

Oct 22 to Jan 6 reflections from an upcoming book for tending hurting hearts at Christmas

            I confess. Even though my intent has always been for Christmas to be about celebrating Jesus’ birth, for most of my life that feeling of a buoyed up heart—which supposedly goes with the “holidays”—was driven by festive get-togethers and pretty decorations, yummy, fresh-baked aromas, pretty packages and the pleasant, relaxed laughter of people gathering who were important to me as they enjoyed each other. These were the images of the season, which drove my love for this time of year. The Nativity scene, Bible readings and church services were key parts which I thought made Jesus centermost. But really, Jesus was not the center of my Christmas. Traditions about Him were. I enjoyed the ritual.

Of course, I found ways to make all of the spectacular-ness of it God-honoring. On the one hand, wasn’t all this “Christmas-ing” a reflection of God? Weren’t all my traditions at their best rooted in good choices to “love my neighbor”, especially those closest to me?

For instance, God was all about gifts, wasn’t He? In fact, Jesus was The Christmas Gift! (Or so we said.)  The Magi presented gifts to the Holy Family. The Holy Spirit gave. The gifts of the Holy Spirit were love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness and self-control. Christmas at its best was trying to love beyond self, right? Weren’t gifts part of this?

I mean, they represented love, didn’t they? Weren’t the gifts I sought to give often a taking of the time to see and care for the ones next to me more than I otherwise might notice them all year?  (Not on purpose, but just because that was the way it generally was.)

So, Christmas traditions put a good focus more on others than at other times. Wasn’t this beautiful? Wasn’t this God-love manifesting and thus good? Less a focus on self. What self needed less dominant. What self wanted pushed more to the background. Self-consoling priorities diminished. What self was striving for. This neighborliness honored Jesus. It honored His command to love the one next to me.  None of this bad. In fact, good. In its own way. Right?

Perhaps. But when Christmas wasn’t the same—when all this other-ness just wasn’t satisfying or even caused pain—maybe the Lord wanted to impart something different. Something greater and more. In the downtrodden-ness of how the season felt, He longed to change it—to somehow elevate my concept of Christmas beyond what I had previously been willing to pause and consider. 

Perhaps it was time for Christmas a new way, where all this fluffiness (and even surface, human-made cheerfulness) when pushed aside would reveal a richer, truer Christmas core.

O, come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!

I am ready, Lord. So ready. Lead me into the deep waters of Christmas which help me to know and understand You more. Help Christmas to become the rich time of celebration which has no need of traditions but can still enjoy these. Let it become truly a time of reveling in You and what You really came to be and do.

Seek, inquire for, and require the Lord while He may be found [claiming Him by necessity and by right]; call upon Him while He is near.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:6,8-9

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Author: Elizabeth Fulgaro

I am a God-seeker--a Jesus-worshipper--a Holy Spirit follower. I create songs, devotions, prayers, books and Bible studies to give words with which to get to know God more. For you. Its for one-on-One encounter unto transformed, transcendent living. This is not my vocation. I am not professional. I am a real, ordinary person just looking to do what God put me here to do. (You have a unique purpose too.) So I am called to the work. It is not my income source, but my gift to those who find it blessing. Eagles Nest Foundation sponsors all projects for you. The result: pure, clean spiritual nutrition to feed that deep insatiable spiritual hunger which eventually overtakes each of us and galvanizes you to the life God has for you. This life is purposeful. Exceptional. You--yes, you--are called to something greater and more satisfying in His service. So it is hoped you'll try this spiritually dense nutrition and find it to be a personal blessing. However, the goodness of God-following doesn't stop there. He uses those who seek Him to be His love and care (justice, mercy, advocate, kindness) very tangibly in the lives of those around you. Not by your power but by His. His ideas. God ideas. Not just good ideas. To be part of changing the world, if you will let Him. You learn to just follow where He leads. That if you listen, He will teach you to hear His voice and then when you obey His inner promptings you will become His incredible hands and feet in this hard world. These materials will help! They will help you aim your life towards God in a way you never look back. You will not be the same. He will become the River in your desert spaces and you will become a conduit of this same River of refreshing, replenishing Water of Life to others. Find a prayer. Pick a blog post. Read a book. Be led deeper into the Bible. Select a song which resonates and use it and use it again to go close and ever closer to the God who longs to draw you near. Oh, and don't be tempted to think I'm a crazy over-spiritualized loony...My background is financial planning and counseling. Almost 40 years of it. To choose to believe in God is not to leave practicality and reason behind, but to learn that there is that which goes beyond it and includes it, unto true life fulfillment beyond all your dreams for the one who keeps seeking Him. I am a third generation Californian. I am a person to whom family means everything. The only priority higher is God. The foothills of the Sierra Nevada are my home. It is here the 1849-1856 Gold Rush is still glorified. Easy money? Actually only for the few. Even though I was raised in the Church, it took me ten years of doubting God even existed to realize that without Him, no matter how much of this life's "stuff" is accumulated, I actually have nothing. To come to know that all those who chased after gold are dead and all those who still chase stuff will be dead. That's when I became a God-seeker. Looking for that more. And Eureka! (This is California's state slogan and means I found it.) I found God...or rather, I discovered He was there and had been there waiting for me to look for Him the whole time. May you discover more of Him for you, greater flourishing life and greater flourishing for all in the world as well. God bless you! ~Elizabeth

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