Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Three Levels of Christmas

The Poland Warsaw Mission has a fantastic president.  His name is President Engbjerg (he's from Denmark) and he is a great guy and has a wonderful family, too.  Two weeks ago he gave a talk in Sacrament meeting that Greg and I both just loved, so I thought I would share what I remember and call it my Christmas post.  He pointed out that there are three levels to Christmas:

Level One:  Santa Claus

This is the part of Christmas that most everyone enjoys.  It is most readily seen, tasted, and smelled of all the levels.  It is Santa Claus, the Christmas tree, the lights, the decorations, the presents. It's the fudge, toffee and divinity, the cookies, cakes and other treats.  It's the smell of the evergreen living (dying?) in your living room, cinnamon simmering on the stove or a clove puctured orange.  It's the jingling of bells, the Ho ho ho of Saint Nick, and the ever present lull of Christmas carols.

Everyone loves the Santa Claus level.  It tells us Christmas is here and brings a different feel to our lives.

Level Two:  Silent Night

Many people also appreciate this level.  They recognize what it is we are celebrating.  It is the story of an angel appearing to Mary and Joseph.  It is their journey to Bethlehem and their stay in a stable, because the Inns were full.  It is the birth of their most important of all babies.  It is the song of the angels to the shepherds on the hill.  It is the shepherds joy and desire to see this new born King.  It is the brightest star shining through the dark of night guiding the wise men to visit this young child, the Christ, the King of kings.

We teach this level to our children.  They love the story.  They remember it.  It is an important part of Christmas, and one we strive to remember on top of all the excitement of level one.

Level Three:  The Adult Christ

This level too often gets left behind.  Is not how we celebrate, or even what we are celebrating. This is why we are celebrating. It is the true cause of rejoicing. Without level three there would be no need or purpose for levels one or two.

It is a entire life lived for my benefit; for your benefit.  It is a Savior!  It is the most selfless of all men, our perfect, loving example.  It is a teacher, a leader, a comforter.  It is a God.

It is a life given freely.  It is patiently born suffering.  Suffering for my sins, weaknesses and insecurities, for my pain and mistakes and insufficiencies.  Suffering for yours, too!   And it is the agonizing physical suffering on the cross, that lead to death.

But what death?  A powerless death!  A momentary one.  A death overcome by life!   Real Life. This is not a fairy tale.  This is true.  Our Savior and Redeemer did this for us!  He lives!  And he has shown, by his life, the way that we may also live.

Level three is about a Gift.  It is not the gifts given under the dictates of level one on Christmas morning.  It is not the well known gifts given to the infant Christ child.  It is God's gift to us.  It is his son, and His gift to us.  It is what brings happiness in this life and joy in the world to come.

I pray that I can use this gift every day.  That it can be a more central part of my life, and not one of the presents that gets pushed to the back of a little used drawer and forgotten about.  Or one that sits on the counter, remembered, but unused.  

I hope that you all enjoy all three levels of Christmas, and remember that without the Adult Christ, there is no Silent Night or Santa Claus.  May these thoughts warm you through the holidays!

23 comments:

Nathan said...

Well put. We are reading some scriptures each day that Erin printed from the Friend magazine, and it seems that the editors must have heard President Engbjerg's talk, too, as we managed to dispense with Jesus' birth in the first three nights and have been reading about the adult Christ ever since!

I've appreciated it, just as I appreciated your post. Thanks,

Annette Lyon said...

Beautiful way to put it. Thanks!

Kaylynn said...

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Begotten Son. The talk helps us remember that! Thanks!

Abra said...

Amen.
Thank you for sharing this!

JustRandi said...

Love that! We did a daily program with the young women this year, reading different scriptures about Christ every day. I think it's made a big difference - at least it has for us.

I like the way those thoughts are organized.

Barbaloot said...

That was great-thanks for sharing.

Heidi Ashworth said...

Bravo! You said so well what has been on my mind today. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas. My virtual gift to you this year is an English speaking friend in your ward who lives fairly close. (that would be a bit of a miracle, huh?)

Jen said...

That really was a great way to state it! I'll remember this for next year.

Melanie J said...

This is the kind of Christmas message I love best.

Lara said...

I love this. Thank you.

charrette said...

Beautifully stated. Thank you.

Trying to Stay Calm! said...

Hope you have a blessed and very Merry Christmas! L♥ve and Hugs :) Shauna

Kazzy said...

Thank you for your thoughtful post, Lisaway. I wonder why you tag your spiritual thoughts as "sorta churchy". Let it ring, sister! That was a really great way to look at the Christmas holiday. It is so true that there are two different Jesus'. We love Him in innocence when we are young, and in a fuller more desperate way when we are older. Terrific. Thanks!

pam said...

I love how you put this. May we all find the adult Christ in our Christmas, when the time is right. Blessings to you.

Becky said...

This is a beautiful message, and a perfect one for me today. (I'm a little stressed with all the logistics of Christmas.) I think I'll go read Luke 2.

Merry Christmas, friend!

Heather said...

What a great Christmas post!

Elizabeth said...

Well said! I love what you have written here from the mission president, I'm printing it off and using it as a reminder each year of what the season is truly about. It is too easy to get caught up in the hype of it all. Thanks for the great reminder!

Rebecca said...

This is beautiful. Thank you for posting it.

Alison Wonderland said...

Lovely.

Marivic_Little GrumpyAngel said...

Beautiful! I hope you had a great Christmas. And I also hope that your new year brings more blessings. I also hope that we can all strive to understand and appreciate level 3 by the time next Christmas rolls around...

Melissa Bastow said...

I was so busy creating level one for my children that level two (and not even close to level three) were much part of our Christmas this year. It was really sad, and not at all the Christmas I wanted or should have provided for my family. It's a good lesson to learn and in some ways I'm glad to have experienced it, so that I can change it in the future. But just in case, email all of this to me again sometime around Thanksgiving next year to remind me!

3 Bay B Chicks said...

Such a lovely, lovely Christmas post. By far the best that I have read. Thank you for taking the time to post this message. You have clearly touched the lives of people both near and far.

I have to also tell you that I took the time to read about your history with your husband. I became so engrossed, I even ended up clicking on all of the links you provided. Your story is, quite simply, lovely. I will even go as far as to admit that it moved me to tears at some points. You are a very lucky woman to have found someone so perfect for you.

-Francesca

PS: Apologies that I never got back to you re the egg-nog. Yes, you can add seasoning. Things that we have added over the years include brandy, grated nutmeg, and/or ground cinnamon. Did you end up making it over the holiday?

Ola Zan said...

Hi, Lisa!
I read this post as I was flipping over pancakes, which made cooking really fun. You don't know how much you and your family contributed to our happy Christmas. Thanks for putting together that talk again. I could finally hear it as a whole. Your blog made me cry - it was so spiritual . Thank you. I also loved the film your family put on youtube - "O co chodzi w Swietach". It's so true. I made my family and my Mom watch it during the Wigilia. We loved it.