December 10, 2012

Shadows and The Substance

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.  ~Colossians 2:16&17 (Emphasis Mine)
Call it life circumstances to get me there... or maybe another year of "maturity" was what did it (I don't know), but last year I felt a shift of mind, heart, and attitude towards the Christmas season.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I LOVE Christmas. It's the way to win my heart. People can get me to say 'yes' to pretty much anything if they dangle a candy cane in front of my face or bribe me with a Starbucks red cup. I love cutting down our own Christmas tree, the huge Christmas breakfast with cranberry scones, cookie baking, candy making, Christmas Eve service, long movie marathons after finals, and getting teary-eyed when Nat King Cole comes on, because his rendition of The Christmas Song is just plain beautiful folks. I enjoy going to the mall for the sake of just going and not having to worry about shopping, because I pretty much had that done and in the can in August. And I'm always keeping my fingers crossed that we get snow. So I'm all-in with the holidays. 

But to chase all of these things during the Christmas season, not realizing they are merely shadows, things that point to something greater and real, is to miss the heartbeat of Christmas. It will leave you with what sociologists have now dubbed 'the Christmas hangover' or 'Christmas Blues.' Shadows are not THE substance. Shadows are merely things we can enjoy that point us to the substance: Christ. I'm not going to stand on my soapbox and be that Christian that says we shouldn't celebrate Christmas because of consumerism and Santa (which for the record, we did when I was growing up, and I think I turned out all right, nor do I harbor any resentment towards my parents... they just told us there was a secret to Santa for us to figure out). I'm saying enjoy the shadows... the tree trimming, the presents, the huge amounts of calories... but they should be treated as gifts and blessings to draw us closer to Christ. 

If we get to the end of this celebratory month, and don't have more of Jesus... then I think we've failed. Enjoy, delight, and savor the traditions, the food... everything that's unique and special to the season, but let it push you closer to Christ, instead of clinging to the shadows.


  1. I love this, Natalie! It can be kind of precarious sometimes, finding that sweet balance between observing and celebrating Christ's birth and indulging in all of the heartwarming traditions and activities. I think you've struck the cord perfectly.

    I love that your parents told you there's a secret about Santa Claus to figure out :)

    Love your blog! Hope you have a fab day.

  2. Love this! And so true for things other than Christmas too!

  3. This is one of the best posts i've read on the Christmas season. Thank you so much Natalie:) You have such a beautiful way with words and articulating what you are learning! Enjoy this season!! love Katie

  4. yes! i am pretty much a grinch when it comes to christmas-y things. mostly because all the hype starts in early november and by the time dec 25th is actually here i'm just kind of over everything. the consumerism and commercialism just wears me out. but i love what you have to say about it all - the shadows should definitely push us closer to christ instead of taking away from all His glory.

  5. Love this. We're satisfied with too little sometimes.

  6. aww i love this! i'll admit that i get the post-Christmas blues in january. thankful that we have access to the substance of Christmas all the time!!

  7. Such a great reminder, that the holiday blues aren't an absence of blessings, sometimes it's an absence of Jesus and awe of him rather than the lights, presents and ideas of how Christmas should look in our lives.


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