December 15, 2014
I need to get in the mood…
The mood music has been playing since Thanksgiving in all of the retail environments. Jesus can’t get a hearing in any public environment, but the tunes that connect with His birthday are in a continuous loop at Target and Nordstrom, between now and the 25th. Silent Night – and Jingle Bell Rock – are more likely to have listener recognition than America’s national anthem (game show question, for hipsters: is that Star Spangled Banner? or, Born in the USA?). I wonder if Amazon would see an uptick in online sales during December if they could put White Christmas on auto-play while on their site?
Even Santa is now on the banned list for public school programs (no kidding: Cambridge, MA). Reason: he’s too religious. Like a patient being treated for cancer, American society is being x-rayed to find trace amounts of Christmas holiday imagery that might be connected to the birth of that 1st Century Jewish radical who was executed for crimes against the Jewish religion – and, the Roman state – in an effort to remove His influence from the culture. That was, apparently, a failed strategy…
There aren’t many eyewitnesses to anything: the mundane and the historic all seem to happen in front of a limited audience. We all have to get our news – and, process its meaning – through the lenses of others. When it comes to Christmas, MSNBC and CNN aren’t going to do it justice: better to get closer to the scene when you want the facts… or, to deduce the significance.
The story will be recounted next week in churches that still have Bibles in play: Matthew and Luke will be quoted in two-part harmony as they reintroduce the Nativity. Paul’s contribution to Christmas was not more detail about shepherds and wise men, but – rather – the reminder of the big picture that could be missed in spite of the carols and crèches. He presents a fascinating perspective about the way Christmas impacted One who was so in-the-mood that He went overboard in His gifting strategy: from top-of-the-Forbes-list wealthy to bottom-of-the-society poverty in just one Christmas.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (II Corinthians 8:9).
Where are you going this year, for Christmas? The answer changes annually, for some folks. For the Son of God – about 2000 years ago – His plans threw the angels into action: He was heading for Bethlehem, and was going to be gone for a while. He had a present to deliver to humanity, and He’d have to be gone awhile…
The original Christmas gift was grace; it wasn’t delivered by FedEx or Santa, but by God, Himself. It wasn’t on your list, but it was just what you needed! It remains God’s trademark deliverable; it’s the primary thing in His catalog every Christmas. Grace – “unmerited favor” – is the only present God has on His list, and it’s one-size-fits-all. God the Son – Jesus, the baby in the manger, the Lamb on the cross – personally delivered His grace to us when He came to the planet at Christmas.
There are some rich folks today who have begun to give some of their money away – 128 are currently on Gates and Buffett’s Giving Pledge list, willing to part with half of their $1 billion + for charity – but none are on record with plans to give it all away, 33 years before their death. Anyone who starts out rich and becomes poor laments their dumb luck. Not Jesus: He planned to move from Glory to gory; to wade in the filth of human misery on His mission to deliver grace. He wasn’t above it all; he was immersed in it all. Why?
Because He loves us! He sent His grace, wrapped it in love, and left it at the Tree – up on Calvary – for us to find and unwrap. Just what we needed; we can’t live – forever – without it. If that doesn’t get us in the mood… nothing will!