The True Meaning of Christmas was Discovered at Today's Prayer Service

It's that time of year again. We see it everywhere we go; the twinkling lights, the outlandish lawn decorations, the oversized trees in the living room windows and of course, the endless lines of cars entering the malls. It seems like starting in October, we are bombarded with all the new gadgets and must-haves for the perfect holiday season. There is a magical spell in the air called "Christmas" and very few are exempt from its powers. Once it grabs a hold of you, it will drag you into a desperate need to spend, spend, spend, until you've crossed off everyone on your list. Don't get me wrong. I am a teenager so I too have written my list to "Santa" that I know my parent's will guiltily deliver. However, I can't help wonder if we are missing the whole point of Christmas altogether.

Recently, I tuned into the classic children's movie, "A Charlie Brown Christmas." I've seen it before many times as it comes on every year this season to kick off the Christmas-themed shows on television. However, this time it really pulled a heart string with me. I found myself sympathizing with the character of Charlie Brown, especially when he yells out in desperation, "Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?" Maybe it's because I am older and more mature, but I feel like the emphasis on Christmas has little to do with Christ at all. I think people tend to be just a little too cautious when it comes to talking about Christ. Back in 1965, Charles Schultz, the creator of Charlie Brown, had to fight with the CBS network because they wanted to cut off the famous scene where the character of a little boy named Linnus explains to Charlie Brown (using the Gospel of Luke) what the true meaning of Christmas is. CBS felt that the scene focused too much on Christ and the public wouldn't appreciate it! Instead the idea of a chubby man in a red suit flying around the globe delivering gifts to all is more readily accepted.

Why are we so sensitive when it comes to discussing Jesus, yet we so fondly display the Nativity scene on our lawn next to the Grinch Who Stole Christmas? Just the other day, my mother actually offered me a cookie in the shape of a Baby Jesus which was actually quite adorable! Without a second thought, we dunked Jesus into a glass of milk and allowed him to enter our souls literally! I wonder how much the multi-billion dollar corporations and the media influence our views on Christmas? According to statistics posted on IBIS World.Com, a website that conducts market research on U.S. industries, Americans spent 59.2 billion dollars on Christmas in 2010. Of that amount, 5.69 billion dollars were spent on toys alone! I'll bet those numbers will increase in 2011.

I can't help but wonder why we have let Christmas become such a commercialized holiday. I think for one who lacks faith or who hasn't had the opportunity to study Christianity, the story of Jesus Christ can be a little farfetched. I mean a child born to save us from our sins? The thought of God coming to us in the flesh? Moreover, he was born in a manger, next to a donkey? How can we really understand all this?

The truth is that I don't think we fully ever can understand it. That is why it is called faith. The best we can do is open our hearts and really take it all in. Look for the small miracles that surround us especially during this magical time. Think of the proud father who spends time with his son stapling all those lights on their house, or the mother who teaches her child how to bake the perfect gingerbread cookie. Look for all the people who volunteer to help those with special needs so that the less fortunate can feel loved during this time.

We are surrounded by miracles everyday, but somehow we tend to pay more attention during the Christmas season. Maybe Jesus is more present during this time than we actually want to believe. Invite him into your home this Christmas. A good suggestion is to make some hot chocolate, get some of those Baby Jesus cookies, and watch, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" with your family. It may not be the perfect sugarplum vision of most, but it might get you thinking about the true meaning of it all. Merry Christmas!