People in Japan love Christmas. Were you in Tokyo right now, you’d be surprised at the number of Christmas trees, decorations, Santa hats, garland, piles of presents and all the other stuff you associate with the holiday. You’ll even find carolers belting out all the old favorites. Seeing this, you would think that everyone in Japan has really gotten into the Christmas spirit.
Unfortunately, Christmas spirit has very little to do with it. Although there are faithful Christians in Japan, most Japanese follow Shintoism and are about as Christian as door-knobs. Most have no idea who Jesus Christ is, nor do they care. They get caught up in the lights, the spectacle and the fun of the holiday, and that’s about as far as it goes. They have no idea why there is a holiday called Christmas, they just like all the trappings and the lights.
As we enter Advent and prepare for Christmas, I wonder how many of us have the same mind set as our friends in Japan. We know about Advent, but we’d rather prepare for a shopping spree than the coming of our Lord and Savior. We should look forward to Christmas Eve and Day, but we’d rather look forward to gifts, parties and meals.
I pray that we’re all a little better than that, and that we do prepare for the coming of our Christ with some prayer and Scripture. If nothing else, take a moment to think about Christmas and what it means to you. Find an answer that has nothing to do with gifts or parties, and realize why we celebrate not just the Day, but the season of Christmas. We all love that image of going to the Manger to visit the Christ child. This year, let’s all see if we can take something away from that visit, a hope, a joy, an inspiration that allows us to share some of God’s love with the world around us.
It is my prayer and hope that each of us will find something new this Christmas, something that cannot be lost amidst all the gifts and parties. Let’s see if we can find a real reason to celebrate the coming of our Lord, something that will make all the trees and garland simply icing on the cake.
Merry Christmas to all,