We are told that Christmas has become a delirium of gift making, that people hate its approach and are glad when it is over.
Elmina Atkinson, 1905
Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for Christmas. I enjoy giving gifts and watching my four boys sharing in family traditions: some old and some new. Likewise, I am also delighted that our world, even in it’s warped and twisted way, pauses to reflect on the human nature of Jesus Christ at this time of year. Never-the-less I am struck by the cruel irony that our culture celebrates the birth of one who commanded that we give all our possessions to the poor, by gorging ourselves with food and treats.
Bill McKibben, in his book Hundred Dollar Holiday argues that, in order to reign in a holiday that in many ways is out of control, each of us should limit our spending to $100.
“The Christmas we now celebrate grew up at a time when Americans were mostly poor … mostly working with their hands and backs,” he writes. If we now feel burdened and unsatisfied by the piles of gifts and over-consuming, it is not because Christmas has changed all that much, he adds, “It’s because we have.”
Gail Hudson writes, “What we need and long for now are the gifts of time, meaningful family connections, periods of silence, a relationship with the divine. How to give and receive the Christmas gifts that matters? Make homemade presents, and give children coupons for zoo visits or an evening devoted to playing board games. ”
We need to guard against being misled by our culture. Those who have faith in Jesus should understand better than anyone what the true meaning of Christmas. As a result Christians ought to send the best Christmas cards, not the smarmy ones with empty words, but instead cards with a powerful testimony to our faith.
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! 2 Cor. 9: 15
Next year, make sure your cards provide the spiritual perspective that is needed at this time of year. Let’s be the ones who give the richest gifts at Christmas: gifts of our time, gifts of love, and gifts of compassion. In 2010 let’s demonstrate the faith that inspires every thought we have.
Rubel Shelly wrote a few years ago in his weekly devotional FAX of life,
Faith isn’t self-talk or self-deception. It is our willingness to hear and stand with the things God has shown us through events as awe-inspiring as a trembling, smoking mountain in the desert and as modest as a baby’s first cry in Bethlehem.
Let Christmas deny the hold of this world on your heart. Let it open your eyes to what the willfully blind will never see, let it open your ears to things the incorrigibly deaf can never hear. See Immanuel – and know God is with us. Hear the song of angels – and receive God’s peace offered to anxious hearts.
Merry Christmas Everyone.