Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Give The 12 Days of Christmas?

With Black Friday 2009 in the books, the Christmas rush is off and running. And for those searching for the most unique gift ever, price notwithstanding, perhaps giving the proverbial “12 days Of Christmas” items would do the trick.

According to the annual "Christmas Price Index" compiled by PNC Wealth Management, the final cost of the various items bought repeatedly according to the song’s lyrics would top $87,000. The figures are meant to be humorous. But no doubt someone somewhere will give in to the temptation of impressing someone they love with what would be the most unusual and unique gift on earth – or is it?

To say that Christmas has become primarily a commercial venture would be a gross understatement. Even in the midst of an ongoing economic downturn, retailers were happy about 2009 Black Friday sales as evidenced by the scores who stood in long for days to seal the deal of their choice. Some will no doubt still owe on items bought this year when their repeat performance approaches new year. Perhaps Lucy, in ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’, had the general concept right when she said of the commercialism at Christmas, "It's all run by a big eastern syndicate, you know."

Everyone can grasp the words to the old song, “Christmas is for children”. In many ways, it is just that, since to kids the holiday seems so magical. But not nearly as many know, or care to, that Christmas is for far more than about those who are the chronologically challenged. It is far more than giving or receiving gifts. And it lies far deeper than decorations, parties, and family gatherings - as wonderful and warming as those things may be.

At its core, Christmas is not primarily about the ‘select’ giving from one person to another person even though the basic idea is derived from the Bible's account in Matthew 2:7-11. Christmas is about the giving. But it is about the giving of the Creator God to the creatures to whom He gave life. His gift is so unique, and so costly, as to be infinitely beyond the purchase of even those who could easily afford to give the literal “12 Days”. Considering the very name, it should be obvious that Christmas is the gift that is Christ!

To say that God’s Christmas gift to man was costly to Himself would also be a major understatement. No mortal can ever comprehend the spiritual depths experienced by God’s Son when He willingly and lovingly fulfilled His destiny – the one spoken of in 2 Corinthians 5:21. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us.” Then Romans 5:16 briefly reveals the reason, price, and the miraculous result when God’s supreme gift is personally embraced through faith. Paul writes in verse 16, “For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.” Never has there been a gift that costs so much on one end and yet is so freely offered on the other.

Towards the end of the cartoon Christmas classic, a highly frustrated Charlie Brown finally breaks down and cries out , “Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?" It is then that little Linus Van Pelt steps into the stage spotlight and replies:

“Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about. 'And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'"(Luke 2:8-14)

Christmas gifts may be large, expensive, thoughtful, and personal in nature. Then, too, they can at times be the polar opposite. But the gift that ‘is’ Christmas represents perfectly the essence of pure love with a divine purpose. (Romans 5:7-8)

Sometimes at this wonderful season, bumper stickers and mailboxes will offer the now well-known phrase, “Keep Christ In Christmas” or “Jesus Is The Reason For The Season”. These are lofty and lovely words and a reminder to say the least. But practically speaking this need not be said. A Christmas minus the ‘Christ’ leaves only a ‘mas’ – or better yet, a ‘mess’.

When there is more concern about the financial aspects of Black Friday than the spiritual events of Good Friday, there really is no reason for the season - other than a futile and fragile focus on temporary material things!

Bill Breckenridge

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