Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Buying Christmas

If I've heard it once this season I have heard it a dozen times. 

"Are you all ready for Christmas?"  

Hm.  I have to fight the temptation to say, "Do you really want to know? because if you do, I've got half an hour..."  

I like Christmas.  Christmas DAY that is.  All the stuff that leads up to it, I could do without. Shopping for people who don't really need anything, to get insincere thank yous - trying to figure out what I want and communicate that to the people who want to know so that they don't give me something I will never use.  And the food!  cookies, chocolates, short-breads, donuts, crunchy munchies - and for some reason a marked increase in the caffeine intake.  (Maybe it's the shorter days.)  Not to mention all the "fixings" associated with Christmas dinner.  And the stress!!!!!

I have to wonder what all the hooplah is about anyway.  

I'm sure that St. Nicholas would spin in his grave if he knew what had become of his generous idea of giving to those who could never afford to pay him back.  I'm so sick of the commercialism leading up to midnight on December 24 ... that for years I have been tempted to do something drastic.  Like get something for someone who can't possibly afford to pay me back, INSTEAD of get yet another toy or article of clothing for people who could well do without it.  I know one person who, every year, went into debt for the next 11 months to "buy Christmas" - as he called it - for his wife and kids.  What a crippling legacy to leave his family!  The only thing that produced was a brood of children who thought it was their right to be inundated with gifts - sort of like the Whos in Whoville before the Grinch set them straight. 

We've made Christmas about glitz and glitter, sparkle and shine.  We've made it about getting and grabbing, rather than giving and grace.  

And the giving we do is more likely to be about guilt than generosity.  

I think there needs to be a paradigm shift in how folks think about Christmas.  Yes, it is the time of year we remember the greatest gift ever given.  But not because we - by any stretch of the imagination - deserved it.  This was a free gift made available to us, a gift which cost the Creator everything He had.  He made it available to pitiful people who had no hope of ever giving Him anything that would cost that much - He KNEW we could never even come close to being able to reciprocate.  Though we were morally, spiritually and in every other way bankrupt, He gave His best and most precious gift - Himself - with the full foreknowledge that He would be rejected.  

Why?  Not for tinsel and tinkling bells.  Not for snow and Christmas carols.  

It was solely for Relationship that He gave it all, spent it all.  Relationship with us. And this is the miracle of Christmas - not the peripheral stuff like angels singing and ho ho ho and presents under the tree.  Relationship.  Love.  Hope.  Rest.  Peace. A Savior was born for one reason and one reason only: to die as a ransom for people who couldn't possibly pay their own debt of shame and guilt, to give hope to the hopeless, grace to the fallen, mercy to the condemned.

We can't buy that. No one can.  But HE DID.

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