I’m supposed to be writing
about Christmas, so I might lose everyone right off
the bat by mentioning the recent election. It’s
over. Why bring it up when we are all just now
breathing a sigh of relief? Even if our candidate
didn’t win, at least it we know the insane politics
of 15-second sound bites, misquotations and obscene
advertising budgets has been laid to rest for
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.
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
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
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!
Greg Wooten, Pastor
Lincoln Church of the Nazarene