But here I am digging it up already. I must be
crazy. Here we are on the threshold of the most wonderful time of
the year, and I'm still obsessing over the election. Well,
"obsessing" might be too strong a word. Let's just say my mind is
still reeling about how a president comes to power in a world ruled
by the media.
Not having lived in days of yore, I can only surmise
that the process of electing the United States of America's
commander in chief must have been much different before the advent
of the 24-hour news cycle and Facebook. These days, it seems, we are
desperately seeking someone who knows how to play to the camera and
toes the party line 140 characters at a time. Style trumps
I suppose the argument could be made: "It's not the actual
person; it's what they stand for that matters." After all, we
wouldn't want the rest of the world to think that Americans are
inarticulate, lazy slobs who spend all their free time parked on the
couch watching "Pawn Stars" reruns. Of course we are going to elect
someone with a measure of wit and eloquence. And it couldn't hurt if
they happen to be a snappy dresser. Maybe this kind of "it doesn't
matter who you are, but how you look" logic has a certain political
appeal, but in the words of a wise friend, "it really burns my
biscuits" when I hear people applying this kind of superficial
reasoning to Christmas.
You see, I love Christmas. I love neighborhoods aglow with
lights. I love the green of fresh-cut trees, the red of big
beautiful bows and the gold of glittering ornaments. I love the
music -- everything from "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" to
"It Came Upon a Midnight Clear." I love old cartoon classics about
misfit reindeer, magic snowmen and confused little boys who just
want to know what Christmas is all about. I love sharing good food
with loved ones. I love shopping for just the right gifts, and I
love the smiles they inspire when they shed their paper and
Scotch-tape skins. Get it? I love the whole package.
But what I love most is The Story (not the movie "A
Christmas Story," though I suppose I love that, too).
I love Christmas because it is The Story, the true story
of how God is so crazy in love with people that He sends them a very
precious Gift. In fact, He gives us the most extravagant Gift He
could ever give: He comes to humanity as one of us.
Of course, you know as well as I do what spoiled children do to
their toys -- break them and toss them aside. Wouldn't you know
that's just what we did? We broke God, the precious Son, with an
ugly cross. We spat in the face of the ultimate Gift of love and
scorned the Giver.
[to top of second column]
But even that couldn't stop His love. He proved it by walking
away from death itself and even now patiently waits, hoping we will
receive His Gift and love Him in return.
That's The Story. That's what makes Christmas special, but
you'd hardly think so in such a shallow age.
Today, it's all about the show. Image is everything. It's not the
person who counts, just what he stands for. And that's what
Christmas is beginning to look a lot like. Words like "peace,"
"‘love" and "joy" are carelessly tossed around every year about this
time without a thought.
We try to leave out Jesus -- the person, the Gift, God with us --
and focus on what He stands for (i.e., "peace on earth" and "good
will toward all men"). We miss the heart of The Story -- God
came to us! God invaded our broken world and, in an ironic twist
that only God could pull off, He let us break Him so He could fix
what's wrong with us.
In this day of wars and rumors of war, love and joy and peace
sound so wonderful. We wish them on each other every December, but
we can't give them to each other because we don't have them to give.
God came to us and brought love and joy and peace with Him. Before
Jesus, this world didn't have them, and without Him we never will.
So, speaking as someone who loves Christmas, I offer you this
simple phrase: Enjoy all the food, folks and fun the season has to
offer. But remember this -- without Jesus Christ, the rightful King
of the world, born to us so many years ago, there is no real hope
for this hopeless world.
Someone said it so beautifully on the eve of Election Day: "No
matter who is elected president, Jesus is still the King."
You don't have to wait for the eve of Christmas or the eve of the
New Year or the eve of your dying day to pledge your allegiance to
Him. Receive the Gift! Merry CHRISTmas!
[By PASTOR GREG WOOTEN, Lincoln
Church of the Nazarene]