I have always enjoyed the Christmas season, but never more than when I lived in Anchorage, Alaska. Seeing the various snow sculptures, watching an artisan take a chainsaw to a block of ice and create wonderful, intricately carved scenes was absolutely fascinating — and cold!
Yet, there is sown in the midst of this excitement an obvious, dark-colored thread of sadness, because the reason for celebration is the least exalted thing. Isn’t it strange how we have taken the magi’s act of worship and separated it from the object of their worship?
The magi were left with the question, “How should we respond to the reality of Immanuel, God with us?” Scripture tells us that they responded with a visit for worship and the presentation of gifts to Him.
This season is not about Christmas debt. Instead it is about responding anew to the gift from God — Jesus, the personification of the promise of salvation; Jesus, the light of the world; Jesus.
This season is not about giving the best toys to our children or expensive gifts to family and friends. Instead it is about gathering in our communities of faith and thanking God for His overwhelming love — Jesus, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life; Jesus!
Now the question is, if Jesus is the true reason for this season, how then will you respond?
Steven Richardson, 17th Street Missionary Baptist Church, Anniston
Is it done out of love?
It’s easy to confront the rampant commercialism of Christmas with a sad shaking of the head and a sanctimonious lecture on the “real meaning of Christmas.” I say sanctimonious because the finger-wagger typically does just as much shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday as anyone else.
Our attitude about gift-buying and gift-giving is what’s most important. The positive side of the commercialism is seen when we give gifts out of love for one another. The negative is when we shop for the adrenaline rush, the thrill of the hunt, the satisfaction of beating someone else to the best deal.
When the shopping pleases us more than the ones we’re supposedly shopping for … well, that’s just self-centered behavior.
Is our focus on how to express our love, or is it on how to feed our lust for things?
The magi came bearing gifts for the Christ child, gifts representing their love and devotion and humility before their Savior. When we come bearing gifts for one another – for the members of the body of Christ – what do those gifts represent?
When the three magi saw the star, they were overwhelmed with joy that they were about to meet their Lord.
May joy be in our hearts as we bring gifts to one another in the coming season, as we prepare to see in one another the Son of God.
Michael Rich, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Jacksonville