Christmas spirit lies in Jesus, not holiday trappings

Christmas is just three weeks away. Even though Christmas is a time of lofty hopes and expectations, some years I haven’t had much Christmas spirit. I think it has to do with really seeing the meaning of Christmas during all our activities. Let me explain.

The song, “Sweet Little Jesus Boy,” is an old spiritual written by Robert MacGimsey. This song has been around for a long, long time and I have heard the song over the years. Up until this past week, I was hearing the song with my ears but not listening to the words with my heart. I heard the words differently last week. This is what I heard in my heart:

Just seems like we can’t do right,
Look how we treated You.
But please, sir, forgive us Lord,
we didn’t know ’twas You.

That made me think of the verse, “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” (John 1:10-11) That verse does just not pertain to the Bethlehem scene and all those who rejected Jesus centuries ago. I saw a new meaning in that verse this last week because the words of the song, “we didn’t know it was you,” is relative for us today.

How? I thought back over my busy week. There were plenty of times I didn’t see Jesus and think about what Jesus would do. I remember that older gentleman who needed help finding his parked car in the Wal-Mart parking lot. I knew he was confused but I didn’t stop to help. What would Jesus do?

I thought about the student I had some years ago. I saw her at the doctor’s office and I was in a hurry so I couldn’t wait and talk. I think she felt she was not important to me. I think I gave the impression that I didn’t care about her. What would Jesus do?

I remember the woman at the grocery store who had two small children and a load of groceries. I was too busy to help her to her car. What would Jesus do?

In all these instances, it was just like “I didn’t’ know it was you.” I didn’t recognize those opportunities as a chance to do something for someone else in Jesus’ name.

For a long time, I thought decorating the house and listening to Christmas music, wrapping gifts, making cookies, and dipping pretzels in white chocolate would bring that Christmas feeling. I thought shopping and spending time worrying about what to buy family and special friends was just part of it all. But I was wrong.

Now I know that the Christmas spirit is seeing Jesus all through the holidays, seeing others as His children, and reaching out in His name.

I know that in every encounter I should think, “What would Jesus do?” In that way, I am not rejecting Him but accepting Him as my Lord and Savior. I don’t want to be guilty of missing the best part of Christmas — seeing Jesus and experiencing Him. Just focusing on the true meaning of Christmas as a time for inviting Jesus to be more of my life is exciting.

Judy Brandon is an instructor at Clovis Community College. Contact her at: