The Pastor's Peace - December, 2012
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Yet again the Christmas season is upon us. Everywhere one goes there are Christmas songs and decorations. We are busy surviving Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and the myriad of sales and encouragements to consume goods this holiday season. I wonder sometimes what someone who never heard of Christmas would think about all we do around this time. What would they think Christmas was about?

If that stranger to Christmas watched TV, or listened to the radio, or went to the mall, I feel it is safe to say that they would think Christmas was about buying things; it was about stuff, material goods. Possibly they would pick up on the idea that a heavyset elderly bearded man in a red suit, and putting a tree in your house had something to do with it. These parts of Christmas, however, would just bring them back again to the stuff part of Christmas, as the red guy brings the stuff, and the tree is a place to put the stuff. If the person were lucky, they might see a manger, or step into a church on Christmas Eve. There they might see something about a baby named Jesus being born, but of course later on people bring stuff to that baby as well, so maybe it is just a celebration of the first person to get stuff. Then on Christmas day, the main event, our Christmas stranger would see that the vast majority of these churches were closed, and that almost every family would go to their house tree and enjoy their stuff.
Perhaps this description seems a bit harsh. I don’t mean to be a scrooge, or a killjoy, or suggest that no one should buy presents for Christmas. I certainly won’t be any better than anyone else. I will have my tree and my stuff under it. I will go buy stuff for others, and even look for some bargains in the process. No matter what we do it is almost impossible to escape the stuff aspect of Christmas. I really don’t think we can get away from it, but perhaps we could think a little bit more about Christ in the Christmas season. There are many ways to do this: church attendance, volunteer work, praying, or reading Bible passages as a family. The month or so before Christmas is a time for shopping for most people, but more important than that, it is also Advent, a time for us to think about what Christ brings to our lives.

We are all in need of so many things in our lives, and these needs are not filled by stuff, rather they are filled with the gifts of Christ: love, compassion, salvation, faith, hope, and caring, to name a few. None of these gifts can be purchased or put under a tree. Sharing these gifts, however, will bring us closer to each other and closer to Christ. This Christmas season will undoubtedly bring much of the same, but try if you can to give and receive the gifts of Christ. In doing so, you might teach someone what the true meaning of the holiday is, and you might even learn something new yourself.

Peace and Merry Christmas,
Pastor Brian