Friday, November 28, 2014

Wanting something different

Belle is usually the sweetest horse in the barn. Lately, however she has had her eye on Cali's stall. When I open the barn door to let the horses in, Belle nearly plows me down. She is galloping to get to Callie's stall first. 

What's incredibly foolish about Belle's behavior is that she already has the best stall. Hers is roomy and comfortable. There's nothing wrong with her stall at all, and no reason to want a change. That is the problem. She wants a change. It won't be for the better, but she wants what Cali has. 

When I see her behavior, I know that it's foolish. It's foolish in horses and, I hate to say, it's foolish in us, as well. On this Black Friday, the most insane shopping day of the year, we would do well to recognize that our behavior can be just as foolish as Belle's.  Most of us already have all that we need. Most of the people for whom we buy already have all that they need. Most of us have a very comfortable life, as do those for whom we will shop. What, exactly, is the point of this shopping frenzy? 

The Christmas season is the biggest shopping season of the year. There is an incredible pressure and compulsion to spend and buy. The spending extravaganza that will take place over the next few weeks certainly has nothing at all to do with Jesus' birthday and likely nothing to do with extending the kingdom of God in any way. I wonder what God thinks about it. What does He think about the way we steward the resources He has entrusted to us during this season? 

Lest you think I'm the biggest Scrooge in town, let me confess that we put up a tree today and it is beautiful. The ornaments have been collected over a lifetime, many made by my son as a child. I will help with a Christmas luncheon for the Senior Citizens in my town and will dress the tables with typical holiday decorations. I'm singing in the Christmas musical at church. 

I'm fully invested in the season. It's my Savior's birthday and I want Him to enjoy the festivities. With that in mind, I've modified my traditions a bit over the years. The buying and giving has been decidedly different the last few years, and it will be more so this year. Handmade gifts will be the norm. I've learned some new food preservation skills this year. A few people are getting a sample with detailed instructions on my technique. I will definitely be giving books, and they will not all be books I have written, but they will have something of faith in them. I collected seeds from my favorite flowers in my yard and there will be a few seed packets tucked into gifts. Most gifts will have something of me in them. They will have meaning and, hopefully point to Jesus. 

Not all of my gifts will be "stuff" to add to someone's collection. Some of my gifts will be investments in the kingdom of God, and I will try hard to match the donation with the one in whose name it is given. 

Friends, the mess we've made of the Christmas season will not get better until those of us who know and love Jesus decide to do something different. The changes I have made would have seemed strange and terrible ten years ago, but they have come, steadily but gradually, and my Christmas celebration is better for it. It will be focused on Jesus and will point the way to Him. Come to think of it, isn't that the way it's supposed to be? 

Don't just try to keep Christ in Christmas, let's let Him have the entire thing. Why not make Him our focus throughout the Season, not a pile of stuff? Don't  just have a Happy Holiday. Make sure what we have this year is a Merry Christmas.