You probably did what I did when I was a kid. I was very clear about the presents I wanted. In 1951 I wanted a Lionel Train set. In 1953 I wanted an English Bicycle. By the time 1965 rolled around, all I wanted was to travel to Alabama to be with a girl. By 1972 all I wanted was to have my son born healthy and soon. That present arrived a month and two days later. That was the end of my making Christmas Lists and I began being more concerned about what gifts I wanted to give people I loved. And the cycle was repeated as my son grew up.
A Present is what the name means: someone presents you with something they know you want. And it is still fun to get something I really want as a present from someone I love, and it is always special to give someone exactly what they have been wanting.
And here we are in 2013, hearing Sarah Palin talking about how the commercialization of Christmas adds to the fun and excitement! What? She actually said that in an interview about her new Christmas book. Now that’s a change. You probably thought as a Pastor, I am almost required to be against the commercialization of Christmas. Actually, I am, but I marvel that we are getting to the core of our situation.
When we were just citizens and church members Christmas was sweeter and simpler. But now that we have become primarily consumers with the responsibility to spend it all, it just makes sense to finally celebrate the full bore of commercializing Christmas.
Good for Sarah! Finally, she said something that makes sense. We have a responsibility to be out early on Black Friday, shop at home on Cyber Monday, and again on Green Monday……and then we can get ready for the January sales soon to be followed by new clothes for Easter and blah, blah, blah. The truth all of this reveals is that the War on Christmas is between big companies that are trying to get our complete attention to buy the next big thing.
So the other side of Christmas is this: Gifts are very different from Presents. A Gift is something someone gives you from their heart. It can be anything. Remember the last time a little six year old child gave you a piece of art created just for you, and how happy that child was when you accepted it. You didn’t need it, you didn’t know you wanted it, but the love it brought you resulted in your keeping that child’s art long after the child became an adult.
So here’s the deal……….Go with Sarah and all the joy of Christmas that being a top tier consumer will bring you with the Presents you present to those who know what they want.
But God never gives Presents. God gives Gifts from the heart…..his heart to our hearts. That, Virginia, is why God gave us the Gift of a little child. During this consumer season, if you pay attention, that tiny child will speak to you in his still small voice and your heart will open and you will give away as much love as you have received from the Gift God gave us so long ago.
Reprinted from the Hill Country News, December 11, 2013 edition