Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas

"So this is Christmas," croons John Lennon. As I listen to that song, I find myself somewhat melancholy. As I look at the Christmas tree and the decorations, as I listen to the commercials and see the lines at the stores, I often find myself singing that opening line from the song. (I am not a fan of John Lennon's music but this line runs through my head.) So this is Christmas, as I watch people with carts full of stuff for gifts to people who probably won't care what they received only that they have a stack of stuff to look at and then shove off into a corner.

Kinda sound like I am cynical when it comes to Christmas. I am not. Actually, I love Christmas and all the things that surround it - the decorations, the songs, the gifts,the gaiety, and all the other things that are a part of Christmas. I have been watching the sappy Hallmark Christmas movies (that all have the same story line, just different characters and settings). I sing "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" and drive my family crazy by whistling Christmas songs even when it isn't Christmas.

But as I think about Christmas in the world, I think "so this is Christmas?" Then I think about it from the point of view that I have no right to think about - from God's perspective. I am not God nor do I try to speak for Him. But I wonder what He would think about the way that the world approaches Christmas. Gifts and debts. "I want, I want, I want." You owe it me. I deserve it. I need it. I, I, I. The focus becomes me, what I want and how you have do everything you can to give it to me. If you don't, I will be upset and throw a fit, become angry, never talk to you again.

Why would the Son of God step down from His throne in heaven and become a child in a world that doesn't want Him or care about Him? Why would God become incarnate, become human? We humans are unkind, terrible people. Oh, it is true, there are those brief moments in which someone will do something wonderful. A person will drop a gold coin in the Salvation Army kettle and it will make news (though they begin to expect it to happen and are disappointed when a kind person doesn't do what they expect). Someone might pull together a group of folks to help out a poor family who has lost everything to a nasty person who has taken all they had in their house. We give thanks for that person or persons who help out in those situations. But we forget about the nasty, terrible people who rob, steal, mame, brutalize and kill day after day all because they are lost in their self, their drug habit, their gang culture, their self-centered life that says "I have the right to take from you what is yours because I want it and am stronger and more ruthless than you."  Over and over again we hear about the rottenness of this world. People live in squalor all year long and society does nothing for them until Christmas time and then they are forgotten for another year. Children are abused and neglected and society is too self-centered to really do anything to help them. (Yes, there are some who work year round to help out but those are few and far between.) Families are torn apart because of self-centered desires that say, "I no longer love you but now I love this other person. Good bye." And the description of the woes of society could go on and on.

Why would God come into this world of sin and death? It is for that very reason, because the world is full of sin and death. "We all like sheep have gone astray." Even the most "nice" of us people (and I would like to think I am one of those nice people, who avoids helping others through out the year because I have my own things to face, oops, I guess maybe I am not that nice after all) are not that nice really. We focus on ourselves, our desires and leave others to fend for themselves.

THAT is exactly why He comes into the world. We cannot help ourselves. We are lost in our sins and we need Him. He is born for us, for our forgiveness and salvation. He comes into an imperfect world as the perfect sacrifice. The Son of God comes because He loves us so much He doesn't want us to be lost in the muck and mire of sin but to have life, love and salvation.

Christmas is all about the coming of our Savior. It is about the greatest gift of all. It is about the love of God for a world that doesn't love Him. "So this is Christmas" is really saying that there is one thing about Christmas that is glorious - the birth of the Christ-child. Christmas is a wonder, a wonder that God could love a world so much that He became a human in order to save the world. When I get melancholy about Christmas, I stop and remember what God has really done and then I feel the joy once again. He has loved me. He has saved me. He has given me a family to love and to be loved by, He has placed me in a congregation of people that I love and care for and that love and care for me and my family, He has given me what I truly need - the gift of a Savior.

Merry Christmas! Christ is born! Gloria! Enjoy the time with family. Help out the less fortunate. Sing the songs, eat the candy and celebrate the wonder of the season. Yes, this is Christmas!

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