Christmas Simplicity

          There is a new Netflix movie out entitled “Holiday in the Wild.” Yes it is cheesy. Yes it is predicable. And yes there’s romance.
          But there’s also Africa. Ah, Africa. The land of warm people and magnificent animals and dusty roads and nature and … simplicity.
          The movie has several themes: second chances, discovering your true identity, saving the alarmingly declining elephant population, and, simplicity. There’s a particularly charming scene at the elephant orphanage where workers and their families celebrate Christmas. It stirs something up within us as we recognize the joy of simplicity. Simple decorations. Simple cookies. Simple singing and dancing. Simple gift giving, with mostly handmade items. Simple joy in simply being together.
          It is a stark contrast to what is experienced every year in this country.
          It is an invitation for us to look at ways in which we, too, can simplify Christmas.
          The Hebrew word for simplicity means “sincerity of heart, integrity, and singleness of mind.” (Nancy Kay Grace, Grace Notes) How can we be more sincere? Where can we demonstrate integrity? And what should be our focus for singleness of mind?
          Christmas (or “Christ mass”) is, after all, simply the celebration of God’s love for us through the gift of Christ, our Messiah. [Repeat, as needed, throughout the season.]                  
          He was, after all, the long awaited Savior of the world who finally came from Heaven to earth to offer His life for ours to reconnect us with our Creator.
          “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)
          So how do we going about simplifying what has become a nightmare of increasingly consumptive consumerism? How do we simplify Christmas?
          Scott Redd, of the Gospel Coalition, has an answer for us:
He writes, “the Biblical notion of simple living doesn’t arise from the character of our lifestyle. Rather, it arises from the character of the God who gives us life.”
          All He has ever wanted is to be our God and for us to be His people. (Ezekiel 11:20) Let’s let the way we approach Christmas demonstrate this all-powerful, and empowering, relationship. Let’s simply live as God’s people.
          Let’s start with worship. Let’s keep our focus on Christ throughout the season. Let’s begin each day grounded in His Word and His Presence. Advent candle wreaths, seasonal devotionals, and weekly corporate worship are helpful tools for this too.
          Let’s spend less. (Mike Slaughter: “Christmas is not your birthday.”) Let’s create more. (Think of what you’re good at and enjoy doing…)
          Let’s cultivate relationships, being truly and fully “present.” Let’s listen. Let’s love. Let’s forgive. Let’s practice healthy boundaries, and rest, and practice self-care, as we care for others.
          And then, let’s simply enjoy Christmas. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the children of God.” (1 John 3:1-2)
          Merry Christmas indeed!