I have a picture in my mind:

It’s the Sunday after the Christmas holidays, and I am sitting at a table in the basement “fellowship room” at church, my lesson plan before me, Bible spread open beside it, hand-outs in a nice neat stack. And I watch as they come in, the women in my class: one by one, or in twos or threes, but mostly one by one this morning. No one’s smiling. Their faces look drawn and ashen. The corners of their mouths droop, so do their eyelids. Their shoulders are slumped and their pace is close to dragging.

They are drained dry. They are not a picture of Christian joy, only exhaustion.

This is not a made-up scenario. It’s a memory—of an oft-repeated phenomenon.

What’s wrong with this picture? Wasn’t the assignment to promote (even manufacture) mirth? Joy in the nativity, joy in the Christmas season, which is so central and essential to our faith?

Or is it?

If a group of first-century Christians could observe our 21st Century December over-busy activities, what would they think? If they could tell us, how important would they say all that we’re doing is to the gospel message?

You do know, don’t you, that they didn’t even celebrate Christ’s birth—but His Resurrection? Of course to get to the resurrection there had to be his birth, mortal life, and death, but their focus was on His rise from the grave and ascent to the Father’s right hand “from whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.”

Wouldn’t their mouths fall open at a reading of our Christmas lists, especially the to-do one? Wouldn’t they stare, bewildered, even aghast?

What you might not know is how recently appearing in history have been many of the so-called “Christmas traditions”  we feel obligated to squeeze into our already jammed calendars. I hope to get a post worked up before this week is out, sharing discoveries I made this year about this. But things have just gotten a bit jammed up here, too, so we’ll see.

But meanwhile, with all else that’s mentioned above in mind, take another look at that (mental or written) December to-do list, right now. And ask yourself, “What is One Thing I can remove from that list and not jeopardize the cause of Christ as those people knew it? Then do it! Mark x’s all over it, or black it right out!

Then, in the time you save, visit these other bloggers’ posts, which evidence a very happy hope that the tide is turning, that Christian women are getting smarter and jettisoning the overload in favor of better Christmas traditions and saner perspectives:

Are You Ready for Christmas?

The Heart of Christmas

Six Steps to a Guilt-free Christmas

(And have a joyous Christmas season!)

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