I can hardly believe Christmas is almost here. I feel like I have just emerged from a whirlwind of school, shopping, soccer tournaments, and sickness and have been deposited, right-side-up and breathless, in the week before Christmas.
The shopping is done. Almost. Everyone is over their colds. School is winding down, and the soccer season is over.
Now the sacred moments, like graceful deer grazing in a snow-covered meadow, can softly appear in the wake of all the activity.
The moments that take the true richness of the Christmas season and reveal it to our wondering eyes.
And it would appear that we Americans have some funny ideas about the true meaning of Christmas. While waiting patiently (well…trying to!) in line at Wal-Mart last week, my eyes were drawn to a large, attractive sign in front of the in-store banking institution. The enticing Christmas colors and sparkles promised a cheerful holiday message of some sort, but when I read the words I was mortified: “Spend like you WANT to this holiday season”, the sign called to hapless shoppers, inviting them in to apply for loans for Christmas shopping. No mention was made, of course, of how it would feel to begin the New Year saddled with debt for gifts that already lost their sparkle.
What a message! “Spend like you want to, and never mind the consequences!”
Is that what Christmas is about – lots and lots of presents that we can’t even afford? Is that the way to honor the One we celebrate?
I will admit, no one likes to feel poor at Christmas. We have had the years of mandatory homemade gifts, the wishing there was more to go around, and the tension of wanting to bless those we love with something they will enjoy, and not having the money to do so. Not fun.
But not the end of the world, either.
If you are having that kind of Christmas this year, I understand that tension and my heart goes out to you.
The truly poor are those who do not see.
That kind of poverty is not solved by more cash or gift cards, and it results in a Christmas devoid of true meaning.
Those afflicted by this kind of poverty don’t see their need for the infant King who came to dwell among us.
They don’t see the incredible miracle of “God WITH us”.
They don’t see the wonder of fulfilled prophecies and the sweeping grandeur of God’s timeline from eternity to eternity.
They don’t see the mystery of the infinite God making Himself small and enduring deprivation, hunger, coldness, and suffering for people who would misunderstand, mock, and crucify Him – and doing it all for love.
They don’t see the poignant beauty of that rough feeding trough that disguised the costliest gift of all time.
Oh, that we would all have eyes to see, this Christmas, the glory and the wonder of a love so incomprehensible.
We don’t have to have anything special this Christmas except eyes to see the wonder and a heart open to receive the Gift and the Giver.
That will truly make it a Christmas celebration fit for a King, regardless of what may or may not be under the tree.