Chris Lauri // December 23, 2016

As we approach Christmas at Anthem, there is always this tension we pastors feel to try to one-up what we did last year. I’m just being honest. Have you ever felt that? Just like everyone else, we want Christmas to mean something. We want this Christmas to “take the cake” so to speak. We want it to be memorable; a Christmas nobody will ever forget. It’s our heart’s desire that people truly understand what Christmas is all about and yet, sometimes we think that in order to do so we have to rebrand Christmas. Sort of like Coca-Cola re-designing their logo and ad campaigns every so often. The hope is that maybe you can put together something so compelling that the same age-ole message would come alive like never before. After all, we have all heard the old adage that “the message doesn’t change but the method does”. And so we go to the drawing board to figure out how to make the message more impacting and more creative in order to “reach more people”. Please understand, I consider myself highly creative. I love being inspired and creating things through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; what a miracle that can be. So, I’m not saying that creativity is bad or desiring new creative ways to present Jesus to the world is wrong. It can often be such an enriching process to prayerfully consider creative ways to share Jesus. The tension, however, was more in the feeling of having to figure something out. Like if we didn’t do it, we had failed. That mentality is full of pressure and a burden that I didn’t want to have to carry this Christmas season.

As Christmas approached this year, I felt tired. I felt the weight of a year full of so much loss and pain. A year that, at times, I wondered if I would actually recoup from. The thought of having to re-brand the Christmas story and one up everything we did last year felt exhausting and for the first time in my life I felt like I just didn’t have anything spectacular to offer. I’m sure you’ve felt this before…the weight of forcing Christmas to happen vs. the blessing of experiencing it in its fullness. The weight of forcing the birth of Christ vs. the intense peace of watching it unfold. The pressure of having to make Jesus fit into my life vs. my life being consumed by Christ. I didn’t want the Church to have to re-brand Christmas and act as though the amazing message of Jesus’ immaculate conception and incarnation was not powerful enough. In the midst of a season of life, like my family and I have been in this past year, I just kept thinking, “is Jesus enough”. Does Jesus, just pure Jesus, do it for me or do I need to rebrand Jesus in order that He become more powerful than ever before?

Have you ever been there? Have you ever felt more pressure during Christmas than you did peace? Have you ever convinced yourself that if you just rebranded Jesus this year than maybe Jesus will come alive more than any other time of your life. That if you just rebranded Jesus maybe He would fit into your pocket to be carried around and called on whenever you needed Him. And in doing so, the true message of Jesus is lost because we try to force Jesus to be born into our life so that our lives can envelope Jesus. When in all actuality, what God intended was not that our lives envelope Jesus but that Jesus envelope our lives. I’m convinced that God never desired for Jesus to just fit into our life and be rebranded in order to work with where we are at. Rather, that our life be rebranded in order to come under the peace, joy and transformative work of Christ.

What God intended was not that our lives envelope Jesus,
but that Jesus envelope our lives.

The tension I felt this year was the resistance of allowing my life to be ironed out by our Savior, Jesus Christ. To allow my life to be in submission to Him not Him in submission to my life. By no means have I figured this out, but I can rest assured that the message of Christ doesn’t need rebranding, but my life constantly does. To semi quote the Star Wars: Rogue One movie, “I am one with Jesus and Jesus is with Me.” The message of Jesus never gets old and I’m not convinced that the world will ever need it packaged or rebranded any differently than God intended it to be delivered from day one. I pray you find peace this Christmas. I pray that your life is rebranded in order that Jesus would be everything you need this Christmas. And if you are feeling the tension of having to one-up and make Christmas more memorable than ever before…then take a deep breath and realize that Jesus is enough and you can’t make Him any better than He already is.

“For since the creation of the world His invisible qualities, both His eternal power and divinity, are clearly seen, being understood by the things made, for them to be without excuse.”
Romans 1:20

“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end…”
Isaiah 9:6-7

 

Grace & Peace this Christmas Season to you and yours

//  Chris Lauri

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