Jesus is the Reason for the Season…

was emblazoned upon the sweatshirt of the woman standing behind me in line.  “O, really!”  I thought.  She was breathing quite heavily, complaining to the person behind her how inconsiderate it was of the person in front of me not to have all the necessary cards, coupons, ID, etc. ready before getting in line, and generally making it clear that she was not pleased about having to wait in such a long line.  “I’ll be so happy when Christmas is over and things can get back to normal,” she voiced.  “It’s only the first week in December,” I thought.  “Long way to go.”

I have a tendency to be very critical when stuff like that happens.  First, I think that Jesus’ birth is not the reason we have Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Shop Small Tuesday, Shop Local Wednesday, stores opening on the Thanksgiving holiday, and so forth.  Jesus’ birth is not the reason we knock ourselves out decorating trees, hanging garland, planting reindeers all over our yards and the like. And Jesus’ birth is definitely not why we spend extravagantly, desire inordinately, party ‘til we drop, or … whatever.  But then I thought, maybe it is.

Matthew reports that an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said that the child that Mary was carrying was conceived by the Holy Spirit.  The angel said, “She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save the people from their sins.”  Matthew 1:21

Throughout history, people have been plagued with the sins of pride, gluttony, and greed.  Instead of realizing that we are “little less than God,” we think that we are God.  Instead of sharing our abundance, we hoard it in “barns where moth and rust will destroy it.”  Instead of caring for the earth as good stewards, we are determined to prove we are its masters.  Instead of celebrating the diversity of God’s creatures, we put up walls and barriers and develop hierarchies.  In fact, nothing seems to separate the “haves”  from the “have nots,” the “ins” from the “outs,” or the “ups” from the “downs” more than the holidays.

Yet it was into the messiness of the world that God came to show us just how much God loves us, how much God forgives us, how much God accepts us.  God came to us to show us that things can be different, we can make our world a better place, we, ourselves, can be better people.  God came to tell us that, after that first Christmas, the world would never get back to normal again.  Thanks be to God!

Instead of being hassled, I wonder what would happen if we trusted God to be who God is and rearranged our priorities.  Joel Raney says that the Christmas event is a time to “celebrate the HOPE [Jesus] brought, the LOVE he showed, the PEACE he promised, and the JOY of Emmanuel, God with us, forevermore!” (forward, A Thrill of Hope)

I think that I shall have a T-shirt made that reads “The Season is the Reason for Jesus.”  Just a thought ….

Wishing you God’s gift of hope, peace, joy, and love this Advent/Christmas season.

Pastor Char