Have you considered the roots of our “Holiday Season?” It begins with Thanksgiving which is a great thing. I know that it has been said that “Gratitude is a disease of dogs” (J Stalin), but I think it is a great thing. None of us can take credit for our God-given abilities, talents or aptitudes. As it says in the Bible, “What do you have that you haven’t received?” Be grateful to God who has given you the wherewithal to do what you can with what He has given you! Thanksgiving is followed by the celebration of the incarnation (Christmas). Humanity is pretty messed up. All of us. The existence of law enforcement, military establishments, hospitals, etc. constitute a tacit admission that we are broken and need redemption. According to the Bible, we cannot heal ourselves and are under judgment. Mankind is and has been in revolt against their Creator and we have paid the price. But God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son (who willingly gave Himself for the world) that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. That is what Christmas means. I mean, an infant in a manger is fairly “cute’ and non threatening, and if all we do this time of year is make a passing observance of the nativity and coat it with sentimentality and tradition we lose the whole message. He came in our skin to pay our debt! His once-for-all sacrifice was a gift to us all. He completely identified with us in our humanity and took our burdens on Himself. That puts the “merry” in Christmas!
Some may argue that religion has caused all of humanity’s ills. I disagree. Yes, it has caused enormous pain and suffering. But mere religion is not at all a relationship with God through Christ. Religion by itself is usually a tool by some people to control others. Jesus teaches that if we have trusted Him as our Lord and Savior our duty is to love God and our neighbor as ourselves. If more people lost “religion” and followed Christ this world would be a much different place. And consider the opposite: The dictatorships of the proletariat, fascism racism and statism have brought us the slaughter of multiplied dozens of millions in the last century alone. In Soviet Russia, Central Europe, Cambodia, China, etc. millions have died to install just another “boss.” As in, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” Jesus didn’t come to save my wallet, place my ideological allies into power, give me “goodies,” etc. He came as Lord and Savior and, as His follower and subject, I want to go where He went and do what He did. To love my neighbor, my enemy; those with whom I agree and those with whom I differ. And to love in action not merely with words.
We have had a great year. Aside from the ministry and all its challenges and pleasures, we have had fun. Is that a safe thing to say? It is fun to see God change people! It is fun to share with one another in service. It is amazing to see Him at work in and through people - and we have a “ringside seat.” We have also had the bittersweet times of loss when those we love have departed this life. But it is also our confident hope to be with them again. Jr High Camp, Soccer Camp, weddings, counseling, coffee with friends, woodcutting, barbecues, church, Bible studies, hospital calls, yard and building maintenance and seeing people grow - it is all good! Some people worry about life’s meaning. I figure that will become plain at some point in time, maybe in this life but certainly in the life to come. But our purpose is a no brainer! Seek and serve Christ and love people. Cool ducks!
T’was the night after Christmas, and all through the house,
nothing was stirring, except for a mouse.
The stockings were scattered and littered the floor,
wrapping and ribbon in a pile by the door.
The credit cards maxed; cash advances more,
in hopes that the tax return’d even the score.
Kids bicker and argue over whose gift is whose,
while the only sane critter, the cat, takes a snooze.
Why do we struggle, spend and obsess,
when the focus of Christmas was never this mess?
He came in our likeness, our lives to redeem,
to turn us from us and to care for the mean.
The spirit of Christmas is to focus on Christ,
loving for His sake and apply that to life.