Is your home looking festive for the upcoming Christmas celebration? Festive displays are just one way that others are aware of how we recognize the celebration of Christmas. Oxford Dictionary defines festive as relating to a festival with a cheerful and jovially celebratory means. The word, festive, however to me, is a humorous word that holds a double meaning. And one which I may just need to rethink and turn back to its true meaning.
Years, ago, I was visiting with a good friend of mine whose son was about 7 or 8 at the time. It was fall and seen throughout her rather affluent neighborhood were exceptionally beautiful and tasteful fall decorations. The displays utilized the harvest theme of pumpkins, corn stalks, and multitudes of fall-colored flowers. As she drove me through her neighborhood, we turned the corner to a home that had a rather shocking, much over the top, and seemingly out of place display in anticipation of Halloween. My face must have quickly reflected my opinion. As I went to speak, she quickly interrupted me. As she sternly said that these neighbors were extremely “festive,” emphasis on the word, “festive.” She made it noticeably clear that no further comments should be made regarding the decorating choices and it should be left at, “festive.”
I later learned that festive, was a word she often employed when referring to rather gaudy, ostentatious styles of decorating. This was due to her young son, who often liked to repeat what she said to others. This employment came about after her son repeated her outspoken thoughts to a neighbor regarding their celebration display. By utilizing the word, festive, an exclamation could be made over someone’s taste in a way that would not create hurt feelings as the word means joyous.
Why Decorate at All?
People decorate for holidays for a variety of reasons. Many go all out for every holiday and truly show their “festive” side of life. Maybe that is not such a bad thing regardless of their taste as they put their joy on display. Some might say, however, that decorating for the holidays, in particular, Christmas is done to show off or just make us feel good about where we live or even worship. No matter the motive, however, what decorating does is issue an invitation to those that view it. It includes others and invites them to take part in our joyous attitude over the celebration as we desire to share our festive spirit with others.
We can argue about where the dividing line lays between tasteful decorations that enhance the celebration or decorations that have gone too far. These would be the ones that appear to lose the meaning behind the celebration and only draw attention to the decorator. However, when we look to celebrating, it is our hearts we need to examine as we plan how to carry out the celebration. If the joy and desires of our hearts are to offer an invitation to others to celebrate with us, then whatever festive direction we may take cannot go wrong.
As we look to the celebration of Christmas, we need to ask ourselves how our celebration operations are reflecting Christ. What is our motive? Are we inviting others to share the joy or merely showing off? Our worship and our planning should always be pointing to Christ. Issuing Christ an invitation to join us is important while allowing others to see His work through us. When we approach all of life in this matter then we invite others to come and know the grace of God too.
Allowing Inner Joy to Reflect Outward
When we approach Christmas with a festive outward appearance, we can reflect our inner relationship with an outward appeal. This allows a place for joy to be physically seen in our environments. It also invites others to share in that joy. As it allows beauty and light to spread through the darkness. John the Baptist prepared the way for Christ. We, too, can prepare the way by inviting our recognition of the Messiah publicly. Decking the halls, putting on a bright display, and showing the world our joy is part of the preparation.
As we prepare our spaces, we prepare our hearts and the world for the one who comes. Our decorations along with our acts of love and service issue an invitation to others to join in the festive joyful celebration. By remaining joyful and with thanks during all situations we make a conscious decision to do what God says. For any time, we follow the commands of God we will see people and things from God’s perspective making it easier to be both joyful and thankful.
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong in Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:16 – 17 (NLT)
The Difference between For and In
Perhaps you aren’t feeling very festive this year. Maybe your joy has waned because of the heartaches that have occurred in your life. You are finding it difficult to thank God. It is during these times that we must remember that we are not thanking God for everything but in or through everything. No matter what, don’t stop praying, Paul tells us. This is because he knows that sometimes prayer isn’t answered in the way or time, we desire but it is through this we must remember that our persistence is our faith in knowing that God is aware. He hears us, and He will always answer on His schedule. Christ is listening and is always present. We must have confidence that His answer will be in the way that He knows is best.
We can be thankful for God’s presence and the good that He accomplishes through all circumstances we may face. It is here that our joy derives as we pray and are thankful for the joy we hold in our salvation. For some people this year, Christmas will be a holiday they want to wish away because of the pain it brings. But the Holy Spirit can give you God’s joy to share for even in difficult circumstances, there can be Christmas joy. So, allow your festive side to shine!
Sharing the Festive Light Within
Won’t you challenge yourself to be festive in your celebration of Christmas this year as you issue a public invitation to others to share in your joy? Find your convictions rooted in knowing that God always does what He says, and you can depend upon Him for your joy of today and the tomorrows to come. Embrace your motivation to celebrate fully with joy because of the salvation you hold in Christ. Surround yourself in knowing that inner joy reflects outward as you embrace the love the Father has for you.
For in the words of Ruth Carter Stapleton, “Christmas is most truly Christmas when we celebrate it by giving the light of love to those who need it most.”
Love in Christ,
Peace on earth will come to stay when we live Christmas every day.Helen Steiner Rice
What are Your Thoughts?
Have you put out your best festive display for the Christmas celebration this year? Share your thoughts and images on how your Christmas festivities are preparing and inviting the world to celebrate the coming of the Savior.