A recent email: “I wish for you to pray for my children. I know they will have nothing for Christmas and it’s tearing my family apart. I don’t know how to tell a child Santa is not coming.” Penny
“God sent the angel Gabriel toNazareth, a village inGalilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of KingDavid. Gabriel appeared to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!’” (Luke 1:26-28)
Our churches regularly receives phone calls: “Sorry to ask for help but I don’t know what to do?!”
“That’s all right. What can we do for you?”
- My husband’s been laid off and we have no savings for Christmas presents.
- I’m a single parent and everything I make goes toward paying the bills.
- My daughter has a drug problem and I’m raising her children and doing everything I can but there is no money for Christmas.
They all end their plea with: “Is there anything you can do to help our children have a better Christmas?” Our church, like others, will do what we can. Several families receive food and gifts for the kids, but it never seems to be enough. I wonder:
- Why do we get so many pleas for help just before Christmas?
- Who else is in desperate need but never calls?
“Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. ‘Don’t be frightened, Mary,’ the angel told her, ‘for God has decided to bless you! You will become pregnant and have a son, and you are to name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestorDavid. And he will reign overIsraelforever; his Kingdom will never end!’” (29-33)
The answers are as close as your local newspaper. I need to have my newspaper box enlarged but not because of increased content. Circulars scream their slogans: “Make your Holidays Brighter!” “Catch the Christmas Spirit!” “Our Gifts Make a Difference!” Here’s my favorite: “Beat the After-Thanksgiving, Pre-Christmas Rush with our Pre-Thanksgiving, Pre-Christmas Sale!”
Admit it. Christmas is cleverly advertised as Santa Claus and presents. We talk giving but fantasize receiving. You say it’s about family and friends. (Yeah, right!) You try to remember the celebration of Christ’s birth. (Watch the kids eyes glass over as you tell them.) But turn on the television; visit a department store or pick up a bulky newspaper full of ads and the ugly truth screams its horrific message. “The reason for the season is buying gifts and lots of them!” Ouch!
Christmas has become a glaring reminder of who receives generously and who gets little or nothing! Question: How do you justify all of this to a poorer child surrounded by children loaded with more toys than they can ever use that Christmas is for others… but not for you?
Mary asked the angel, “But how can I have a baby? I am a virgin.” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby born to you will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relativeElizabethhas become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she’s already in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” (34-37)
Christmas was never meant to be this way. Jesus was born in a barn with only farm animals and a few shepherds as witnesses. He grew up the son of a blue-collar worker in a land occupied byRome. Throughout his earthly life, Jesus had few if any material possessions. How did we get everything so mixed-up? How can we change? How can we recapture the Christ in Christmas?
Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants. May everything you have said come true.” And then the angel left. (38)
Next Week: Creative ideas to help us celebrate the real reason for the season. Send me an email describing what you do to remember the real reason for Christmas. I’ll share a few ideas with our readers next week. Meanwhile… beat the after-thanksgiving, pre-Christmas shopping frenzy, stay home, relax and read the real Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke. God bless. Larry