It is a commentary on our situation in life that the biggest problem most of us has with our Christmas shopping, aside from finding time to do it, is that most of the people we shop for already have everything they need. This year I’m fresh out of ideas.
We can imagine the scene in a fairly average household on Christmas morning. When all the expensively wrapped gifts have been opened and the room looks like an explosion in a paper-goods factory…
It is rather obvious that a typical American family has everything. They have helped keep the economy on an upward spiral, gratifying both the local merchants and the administration in Washington, and they have cluttered their household with many more things that are destined for the school auction or the garage sale when they move or find that their home is simply too overladen for living. They could not possibly want for anything they don’t have.
Are they people who have everything or people who need everything? What do they really need this Christmas?
They need simplicity, time for sorting out their lives, time for being together, time for getting to know one another, and time for sharing themselves at the deepest levels of human communication.
They need holy time, a sense of life’s deeper dimensions, of eternal mysteries breaking in upon finite existence, of the God of righteousness whose being conveys meaning to all of life’s actions and relationships, and the blessing of a world that wants to bless us if we’ll only let it.
They need space for seeing life as it is, for seeing the millions of people in the world who are starving to death and the millions who are dying of simple diseases, for realizing how shallow life is when it is lived merely for the pleasure of the moment without any regard to the future or its consequences, for standing back and looking at their own lives, so that, like Scrooge when the ghosts of Christmas Past and Christmas Present and Christmas Future whisked him away, they will have a chance to mend their ways, to become wholesome, to become worthy, and to become children of God.
They need the Christ of Christmas and renewal of their inner spirits. That is what it all comes down to, isn’t it? They need to hear and receive the message of Christmas, that God has entered the human arena to dwell with us, that His presence is consequently here and available to us now, that we are not alone, spinning out our destinies…, and that all our days are spent before the Holy One of Israel who poured all that He was and is and will be through the funnel of a miracle into the child born in the manger of Bethlehem. They need to surrender their lives to Christ, who is the real Gift of Christmas, and in the end He so overshadows all others as to be the only one.
In a sense, I am talking about all of us.
That is the way it ought to be for us at Christmas. Most of us have been lost in the busyness of our existence, trying to cope from day to day, and have quite forgotten who we are or whose we are.…And then we, who thought we had everything, realize we have nothing, and, realizing we have nothing, stand ready to receive everything. For He is our joy and peace.
In all the frenzy and noise of the season, O God, help us to find our way home; and, having found it, let us never lose it. Through Christ, who was born to show us the way. Amen.
Christmas Spoke Here
Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1989, p. 88
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