I’m excited about a book I’m reading, In Search of the Real Spirit of Christmas, by Dan Schaeffer.
Back cover reads: “Christmas seasons come and go, often leaving us with vague pangs of regret. Why does the Christmas spirit seem so elusive? …Even those who know the Reason for the season can find themselves wondering if they’ve missed something.”
Yes, that was me. Shop, bake, plan, go here, go there…where is the true Christmas? I knew it wasn’t in doing all the traditional holiday things or buying the hot item for the year, but how could I find this true Christmas? After hearing the Christmas story many times, I became “immune to the story’s real power.”
In this book, the reader sees Christ through the eyes of those whose lives were touched by Jesus—Mary and Joseph, shepherds, angels, magi, etc. Some chapters compare modern day Christmas stories and traditions with the true and accurate story of the birth of Immanuel.
Many struggle with loneliness especially at this time of year when everyone else seems to be joyful and have it all together. Some have lost loved ones, and they will no longer be joining them at the festive table. This time of year tends to accentuate those sensitive feelings. “Celebrate Immanuel—God with you…take this special time to invite Him again into your presence. Thank Him that you are never alone, even when you feel alone.” Just the mere reading of those words brought comfort to my heart. God’s word speaks peace to the searching heart and soul.
*“God humbled himself in a way that even a common shepherd would understand, or a child, or a tax-gatherer, or a fisherman, or a fallen woman, or a self-righteous Pharisee, or me. While lying in a manger, God was making an announcement to all who would come to Him. It was a silent message that told us what we desperately needed to know about our God….ANYONE COULD APPROACH HIM. Common folks can’t visit the palaces of newborn kings uninvited…but kings and princes can visit mangers, and so can bakers and weavers, wise men and shopkeepers, priests and children, cattle and sheep.” This God-Child was available…available and accessible to anyone willing to come. “He had come to mingle with all, to receive them with open arms and put himself at their disposal. All this He conveyed by simply being found lying in a manger!” Wow! What a concept…one I hadn’t even thought of in the past.
The book is practical. At the end of each chapter, Dan Schaeffer includes Reflections and Celebration. This is time to ponder what could be done different to experience the real spirit of Christmas. He suggests concrete suggestions to make it so. For example, in the “No longer home alone” chapter, the author speaks of one thing that keeps us from “entering into the true spirit of the incarnation is our incredible busyness during the Christmas holidays.”
I know I tend to spend less and less quiet time with God when I should be spending more time alone with him. “Make a special appointment to simply be alone with God. Set aside an hour; make yourself a cup of coffee or tea, and clear your mind of everything but His presence.” I need to come into His presence empty handed, not with my usual list of requests bringing only a “grateful heart and genuine thanksgiving for all He has done.”
I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who struggles with the true meaning of Christmas, and where to find the spirit amidst the crazy, busyness of the holidays. I plan to share this book with family members and friends alike.
*(Taken from In Search of the Real Spirit of Christmas, © 2003 by Dan Schaeffer, and used by permission of Discovery House Publishers, Grand Rapids MI 4950l. All rights reserved.)
Leave a comment and let me know if you’d like to be entered in a drawing for your free copy!