Christmas in July
Today is Christmas in July! It seems to have become another opportunity for sales and consumerism but I remember the significance it had on Jim nearly 40 years ago. We were not married yet, but we were dating. I was gone for the summer, working at Mt. Hermon. Jim was running day camps for Downey First Baptist. A few of the weeks had been pretty rough and Jim had left a student in San Diego at the zoo. He was very discouraged, frustrated with himself and some of his counseling staff when he had a realization. It dawned on him, by the prompting of the Holy Spirit (I am confident), that he was dragging everyone down. Here he was in charge and his demeanor was negatively impacting everyone else. All the whining, complaining and bad behavior was like a low grade headache and fever that was highly contagious; and He was the one spreading it! That new reality and what he did about it changed his heart and his ministry forever.
He made the next day at Day Camp Christmas in July. He decorated the room for Christmas. He apologized to his staff and asked for their forgiveness. Jim’s attitude was so changed that it immediately impacted everyone. The leaders got on board and together they planned the biggest celebration which included games, caroling, a gift exchange and more.
From that day forward, like Scrooge, Jim always carried Christmas in his heart. It was not unusual for him to greet people all during the year with “Merry Christmas”. He consciously thought about the incredible gift of grace he had been given and shared it generously. There are so many corollary lessons in there; in spite of the dislike I often have for the over-commercialization of the holiday and for the lonely heartache that it means for so many, I often am reminded of the spirit of the day which celebrates the gift of eternal life that the blood of Christ—enough to be a once-and-for-all verdict, better than any ransom that has ever been given. The blood of Christ—given by choice, with the radical passion and fury of a gracious and just God. The blood of Christ—enough to give us new life…to make us alive.
Merry Christmas everyone!