Will You Be Attending Jesus' Birthday Party?

The title of this post is inspired by an "event invitation" I received a few weeks ago on Facebook. For those of you not familiar with its interface, Facebook has many special interest "groups" which can plan "events", either cyber or real-time, and send out "invitations". This can actually be useful when planning a high school class reunion party, as guests RSVP online. This particular cyber-invitation, to "Jesus' Birthday Party", came from a Christian group committed to getting 1 million "fans".

Nothing wrong with that, I suppose; although in the greater scheme of things, I don't see how getting 1,000,000 people to click a button is going to evangelize unbelievers or edify Christians. However, the very philosophy behind the "invitation" intrigued me, and I'd like to share it with you as encouragement.

As I type these words, it is just past noon on Christmas Eve, 2010. My daughters are in the kitchen baking cookies; my husband has just assembled the doll carriage and Razor Scooter which "Santa" will leave under the tree tonight; and the boys are playing. Thanks to a certain Jewish oncologist, I am enjoying the first Christmas Eve in 5 years I have not had to work, and as the stuffed grape leaves and soup are all prepared, I am sitting here blogging....church is five hours off. All of these fun, relaxing activities (well, except for blogging), evoke anticipation - the expectation of something special. Of course, we as believers celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ - all of these festive touches (even the presents "Santa" leaves for the little ones) are sidebar niceties to the real event. Our five-year-old gets much more excited about Jesus than Santa Claus - the fact that he leaves presents is just icing on the cake for her...a mere party favor at Jesus' birthday celebration.

Some people celebrate "Christmas", but want to leave Christ out of it. In essence, they want to come to the party, but ignore the guest of honor. This is how the world, by and large, celebrates Christmas. But think about that....isn't that what we do, when we get so wrapped up in holiday preparations and anxiety that we lose sight of Him? For me, my prayer life often suffers this time of year because of the painful emotions "seasonal depression" I still struggle against. I still find it impossible to be joyful on demand. It makes me feel as if I'm "missing the party", because I can't seem to get in that joyful, celebratory mood that I ought. And yet, I love Jesus and want to honor Him by being at His party and glorifying Him. To have a morose or dismal attitude is to show ingratitude and rebuff the One Who gave us everything - the whole meaning of Christmas is bound up in Christ's purpose for coming to earth. The manger was eclipsed by the shadow of the cross.

If you are still in the grips of an eating disorder, this battle may be even more intense for you. You wish to be at the party, celebrating and worshipping Jesus, but fellowship (either with family or church) has the added obstacle of food addiction for you. You may be feeling isolated or alienated; ashamed because of this struggle. How can you be carefree and enjoy the Guest of Honor while the connotations of the holiday pose so much temptation to you? You may stay home from the party entirely, because you feel you simply "cannot do it" - and yet you know that if you did, you would be spurning the very One Who requests your presence.

There was a time when I couldn't have imagined a holiday without alcohol. And yet, when I began to walk through those moments of temptation in a deliberate, conscious awareness of Christ's presence and approval, the temptation faded. He was there with me, even though I could not see Him or "sense" Him, I chose to walk by faith. The same, believe it or not, applies to food addiction. No matter what is on the table, you don't have to "abstain" (restrict) or binge/purge. While you know intellectually you are no longer a slave to sin, in the face of holiday temptation, this knowledge may seem like nothing more than a pious platitude. However, think about tonight and tomorrow as Jesus' Birthday Party. You are an invited guest, along with ALL of His friends and all the host of heaven. If this party were literally taking place within the courts of heaven, and you were seated at the table with the King, would your focus be on the food?

Really, now.

I promise you that if you really consider the meaning of what, and Whom we are celebrating, you will have a new perspective. Go to the party. Honor Him with your presence. Praise Him for Who He is. And remember that He is right there next to you, fellowshipping with you and the other spiritual brothers and sisters He's blessed you with so abundantly. Enjoy Him, enjoy His people, and have a blessed and joyful Christmas!

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