Providing that domestic political issues and dangerous international developments have not yet overshadowed the start-up frivolity of our American Christmas holiday, this is a good time to talk about … Christmas shopping, when we buy stuff to give away.
Let’s start by saying giving is good. Christianity is about self-sacrifice, selfless love, sacrificial love, and the loving, giving, divine community of God in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It’s fairly easy to read the Bible and get the idea that a relational God created us to love us and – critically, importantly – gave us freedom either to love Him or not. In faith we are free to decide what we give to God.
Christmas, which commemorates divine giving, often seems more about what we give to each other than what we give to God. Our Christmas-shopping-focused culture rarely uses Christmas to overtly and seriously consider what God has given to us, so let’s stop and look at God’s gift list.
God gives us life and freedom through his creativity and love, gives us divine relationship and eternal salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ, and gives us comfort and knowledge through the Holy Spirit. God didn’t “shop” for these gifts or mention Christmas in the Bible.
People, I think understandably, invented Christmas to celebrate the eternal God’s incarnation into humanity, time, space and history. We see the real action of Christmas in Matthew 1, Luke 1 and 2, and, specifically, John 1:14 – And the Word became flesh. The eternal, loving Word of Almighty Creator God – the Logos, Jesus Christ – became human for God’s glory and our salvation.
Again: God, the loving creator, as Jesus, became what He created, human, to save what had become lost, humanity, to restore all creation and give eternal life, communion and love to you and me … for God’s glory. Reading the biblical accounts of Mary, Joseph, the Angel Gabriel, the trembling shepherds, the Heavenly Host, et al, you can’t miss God’s intention to reunite fallen mankind with God’s eternal, uplifting love.
We can be sure God was thinking in bigger terms than Christmas gifts. The incarnation was an infinitely huge, loving, giving, life re-creating, eternal God thing.
America, sadly, seems largely oblivious to all that, instead consumed with the commerce of Black Friday that now irreverently encroaches upon Thanksgiving, our day of thanks for God’s blessings. Then ensues a season of self-inflicted, joy-killing stress to “celebrate” the arrival of God’s eternal promise of peace in our hearts.
That all seems sort of backwards. We should never give away the joy of Christ.
Walters (firstname.lastname@example.org) considers “Black Friday” to be a poetically apropos accounting term for misplaced priorities darkening this joyous season of God’s light.