Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Spirit

I was driving home last night from church (which if you know, is about half a minute) and I was looking at all the lights that adorned the houses in my neighborhood.

Some are simple- those are my favorite.

Some are a bit ostentatious- those make me smile because I always think of Christmas Vacation (my fav Christmas movie).

And some are just funny.  Like LOL funny.  One house in particular has one of those inflatable Santa figures on his sleigh... complete with inflatable reindeer- ON. TOP. OF. THEIR. HOUSE.  And during the day, it isn't inflated, so it's a very strange sight when driving past.

And as I was driving I was thinking about the movie Elf.  A big group of friends and the Mr. and I all got together on Friday to have dinner and watch Elf.  I super love that movie.  Seriously, could Will Ferrell have any more (appropriate) one liners in a movie!?

I was thinking about the line in the movie that is repeated several times, "the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear."

What does that actually mean?  What is Christmas cheer?  Or how about Christmas spirit?

I would say that the majority of Christmas movies talk about Christmas spirit.  And that perplexed me because I wonder what it all actually means... what is our main focus this time of year?

Last night the Mr. and I started a new tradition of lighting our very own Advent wreath.  I read scripture and he lit our first candle (which signifies HOPE).  We ate dinner by the light of one of our flickering Advent candles and talked about the significance of the Advent wreath and what it means.

Is that Christmas spirit?

I would say from a secular point of view, Christmas spirit is the absence of consumerism and placing value on people this time of year through giving.  Which actually I would still say focuses on consumerism just with more of a philanthropy-like mindset.  Now hear me out, this is NOT a bad thing.  I think it is always good to honor others through giving.  But when taking into account the amount of STUFF we put an emphasis on... I think that we have to do away with such a high focus on PRESENTS and replace it with a focus on PEOPLE because of what Christ has done for us.

What if instead Christmas spirit was replaced with Christ and Spirit?  What would that look like?

How would our homes, churches, neighborhoods, cities be changed if we were focused on Christ and His sacrifice?  What if we focused on the Holy Spirit inside of us that (as Chris Seidman would say) is God's engagement ring- a promise that he's coming back for us?

What if we were sharing the hope that we have in Christ with others through our words, actions and lives?  How would it look any different than giving away toys/money to the less fortunate in the name of "Christmas spirit"?

How can I, Mrs. Carnathan, encourage self-worth in those that are around me?  Because let's be honest, sometimes it's just easier to give without engaging in the mess of life.  How can I be led by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the hope that we have that Christ is coming back!?  How can my actions of "eager expectation" speak to those who need it most?

I have absolutely no answers.  Just lots of questions.  And a desire to learn exactly how to prepare my heart and spirit for His second coming.  Lord, come quickly!

And at the end of all this, I challenge you (as I am challenging myself) to rid ourselves of Christmas spirit and focus only on Christ and the Spirit.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

My Christmas Playlist

As promised, here's a list of some of the songs that I am listening to this Christmas season.  Before I type out my playlist, there are also several Christmas albums that should be worth mentioning.  You also should know that "Oh Holy Night" is my favorite song.  You'll be able to tell.

(in no particular order)

Michael Crawford's "In the Moon of Wintertime"
This is such a romantic album.  Some might find it a little on the cheesy side, but if you like sweeping, dramatic music with lots of choral interludes, this is perfect.  Almost every song on this album is Christ-centered.  And if you love Michael Crawford (the original Phantom of the Opera) like I do, you'll love this.  In my opinion, it's perfection.  His version of "Oh Holy Night" is my favorite.  It makes my heart sing.  Literally.

Twila Paris' "It's the Thought"
This would probably be considered SUPER cheesy because of when it was produced.  It was an absolute STAPLE in my home growing up.  I love it because it is full of songs that aren't "staple" Christmas songs, but are filled with the coming of Christ!  It also has one of my most favorite versions of "Oh Holy Night" in which Twila hits an awesome note flawlessly and she recites Isaiah 9.

Shane and Shane's "Glory in the Highest"I absolutely love Shane and Shane.  I got the pleasure of hearing their album early several years ago at a youth ministry conference in Sacramento.  They sang "Oh Holy Night" and I remember my friend Mandy and I looked at each other (in the middle of October) and saying, "I'm getting that!"

With that said, here's my playlist for this Advent season.  This link will open up in iTunes and take you to the list:

Already, in the few days that I've been working on, this pledge has been a challenge.  I've caught myself a few times starting to put a song that isn't REALLY Christ centered onto my playlist.  Like, "Deck the Halls"... not so much Christ-centered.  More decor-centered.

And I was decorating our tree yesterday and watching "White Christmas" and as I was watching, I thought about how I should just download the soundtrack... Nope!  Not a single song is Christ-centered.

But overall, I'm realizing that most of my favorite songs ARE Christ-centered.  Already, it's been a blessing.

Let me know YOUR favorite Christ-centered Christmas songs!  Comment below!