I admit to having a love hate relationship with the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Don't get me wrong - I love Christmas. It evokes in me memories that go back as far as my mind can remember, all pleasant. And the gift, miracle, and incomprehensible nature of the incarnation is so amazing that just thinking about it in all its dimensions puts an overload on the neurons in the brain. It is truly a wonderful time of the year. And then there is family time: I look forward to having my grandsons in my home for a few days, their parents and my younger son and girlfriend. The tiny house will ring with laughter and rich conversation.
Nor am I a scrooge about giving gifts although in recent years Mary Ann and I have no longer given gifts to one another but simply enjoyed the season. What do we really need at this stage of life? But I do enjoy giving gifts to friends and family. Generally however, you will not find me anywhere near a mall at this time of the year because my tolerance for crowds is limited and the meaning of Christmas has so little to do with the commercial holiday it has come to be where retailers bet their whole year on making money in the period between Thanksgiving midnight and December 31st (ah the post Christmas mark downs).
This is where the love/hate thing kicks in. I love Christmas, as I love Easter morning. But I keep thinking of Jesus' words that a mans happiness does not exist in the abundance of his possessions and it seems to me that in large part that is what Christmas has become: more possessions, more debt, moving merchandise.
It all seems so incongruent with the God of he universe coming as a peasant baby to rescue a world in darkness and sin. He did not come bearing gifts but the gift of himself, undeserved, unexpected ( by most) and the whole scenario incomprehensible to many. When God gave His greatest gift to us, he gave Himself; His Son. Perhaps the greatest gift we can give in this Christmas season is ourselves to others who are in need. God made it personal, we can make it personal. God did not send a card, He sent a Son. His gift didn't help the economy of Bethlehem as he was delivered in a stable.
We get upset when Christ is taken out of Christmas (Xmas). But perhaps this advent season we ought to think more deeply than that at the amazing gift that was given by an amazing God and make that our focus rather than the commercial holiday it has come to be. Rather it is the event that changed everything for all time from that moment until eternity future.
For to us a child is born
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.