– CHAPTER 1 –
“TOP 10” LIST
Merry Christmas! Put your holiday thinking caps on, because we’re warming up with two fun challenges. First, I’m going to give you three sets of lyrics. Your job is to see how much of each song you can remember. If you feel like singing out loud, be my guest. Ready?
- Oh, you better watch out, you better not…
- Rudolph the…
- I’m dreaming of a…
Now, let’s get into the Christmas spirit with our final exercise: when I say “go,” quickly list the top ten things you associate with the Christmas season. You may include past memories or present-day traditions; anything related to Christmas, and there are no wrong answers. This exercise is about the first things that pop into your mind, so complete your list as quickly as you can. You can use the space provided below or get your own sheet of paper, but please don’t skip this brief exercise, as you’ll want to reference your list later!
When you’re done, we’ll continue on the next page. Ready… Set… Go!
Here are a few popular answers: Jingle Bells, cutting out paper snowflakes, snowball fights, writing letters to Santa Claus, vacation from school, mistletoe, sitting by a warm fireplace on a cold night, trimming the Christmas tree, hanging stockings, setting out cookies and milk for Santa Claus, candlelight mass, Christmas lights on houses, and family reunions… Some of our fondest memories circulate around this time of year!
I once asked a woman named Lisa to do this exercise out loud, and she did an amazing job of listing a large number of family-related activities. However, not one thing she listed had any correlation with Jesus, His birth, worship, angels announcing Jesus’ birth, or a manger scene. Now, Lisa loves the Lord, but I asked her why she had so many other thoughts come to mind before Jesus—and her answer unveiled the perfect premise for this book (thank you, Lisa). She said, “I guess we’re all just conditioned to think that way.” So now I ask, if we’ve really been conditioned… what condition are Christians in during Christmas?
What did your top ten list look like? Did Jesus make the cut? Now, let’s add another layer to this “top 10” list exercise. When you see your kids or any immediate family member today, ask them to take the same challenge. Their answers may astonish you (partly because they do not have the chance to read the introduction of this book beforehand). Their responses should be wonderfully raw.
As you compare other people’s responses, where did Jesus get put in the order? Was He first? Was He in the middle? Was He in the back? Or was He left out altogether? If you found anywhere through the results of your own experiment that Jesus did not dominate or top your list, or those of your friends and family members, then let’s examine why together.
You will find that there are a variety of different views among people about Christmas and its traditions. We’ve all heard phrases like:
- “Jesus… the reason for the season”
- “Let’s put Christ back into Christmas”
- “We need to save Christmas”
- “Happy Holidays” (instead of “Merry Christmas”)
Some in the body of Christ regard Christmas as a pagan holiday, believing we should not observe it at all. Many contend that Christmas was created to honor baby Jesus and it’s very important to keep this tradition so we can worship Him. Others still will point out that Christmas has now become so commercialized that we just need to get back to what is really important.
So, what is the real reason for the Christmas season? How did Christmas celebrations begin? How does God want us to use Christmas to worship and honor His Son? These are some great questions, and that is what we are going to cover in this book.
When Lisa suggested so appropriately that we have been “conditioned,” it simply implies that your surroundings, history, and family traditions have trained you to think a certain way. Truth be told, you were probably born into family traditions and influenced greatly as a child by your surroundings to put presents, the Christmas tree, or Santa first, all the while letting God and Jesus share the spotlight every now and then. In doing so, you may find that Jesus, over time, inadvertently moved out of the first priority position because of conditioned habits during this season.
But don’t lose heart—conditioned does not mean permanent. God tells us that through Him, we can renew our minds! And with a renewed mind comes an overflow of blessings.
So, sit back and enjoy while we study “The Christian Christmas Condition.”
Scott Rankin graduated with a degree in music education and spent his 20’s and 30’s as a successful music director, visual designer for marching groups, and a professional clinician for high school and college music programs.