It’s hard to believe that we are only a few days away from Christmas. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s starting to become unrecognizable. As I spent my last few days in New York City I saw the streets lined with shoppers at all hours of the day. A few weeks ago I saw people fighting over waffle makers and toasters. It seems like people are more focused on “me” and “mine” rather than on the true meaning of the season.

Whether or not you believe there is a “War on Christmas”, you can’t deny that the real meaning of December 25th is being forgotten. Atheist billboards are replacing nativity scenes and our President is lighting a Menorah as just an excuse for a “good party”. I’m sorry, but if you’re lighting a candle just because it’s that time of year then you are missing the point – that miracles can happen and that God is here to light the way in the darkness.

If you are celebrating next to a “Holiday Tree” and all you care about is shopping and presents then you are missing the transformative nature of Christmas. It’s an idea that is repeated in every story this time of year from A Christmas Carol to Miracle on 34th Street – the idea that we can believe in powers greater than ourselves and we can be fundamentally transformed. The themes of redemption, selflessness and transformation go all the way back to The Bible with the birth of a baby in a manger in Bethlehem.

With our obsession over “stuff” we are missing out on the good things in life – the gifts that don’t need to be wrapped. It’s not about waffle makers or toasters, the true power and meaning of Christmas is about doing the right thing and helping each other. And it’s not supposed to be contained to a two-week season and then forgotten. We are supposed to take these gifts with us throughout the whole year.

I hope you spend the next few days with your family and friends and celebrate the real meaning of Christmas. I hope you reach out to others in need and offer a helping hand, and I hope you get to celebrate the season free from oppression, judgment, or “Holiday Trees”. And finally, I hope you find the transformative power of this miraculous season.

Laos Deo,