Well, Christmas has come and gone. Where did the time go, anyway? Gone are thoughts that raced to find what we could do to make it the best Christmas ever for family and friends. Many made a last-ditch effort to bring things together. Bottom line, for most, was the need for a miracle of doing much with little. One could have gotten "grinchy" about the financial situation, but, who needs another Scrooge-type story?
We didn't panic. Productivity slows down in a panic. Instead, we assessed the situation and got the basics covered - like getting the house ready. Changing things around got us energized. Buying that new set of dishes that was on sale. Some of us brought out the special ones, and, yes, we even used the wine glasses for a toast that added festivity to water and iced tea.
Cutting the palm branches and adding them to the old silks was not bad at all. Tinsel added sparkle and shine to make things special. All the while, sparkle and shine was getting on us, as we exerted an effort to prepare. Setting out our best Christmas paper plates even helped to trigger our thoughts to the season and the new beginning that's upon us, 2009.
But, as always, it's the inner shine that made the real difference at Christmas, as we considered how we made it through, from Christmas past to Christmas present with the help of God.
Hey, we've got a lot to celebrate just thinking about the obstacles that we've scaled in the past few months.
Just days ago, thoughts of the gift issue turned our stress levels into high gear. The reality of our finances and how to handle that part of Christmas has always been a test. Minds began to probe like an octopus with tentacles, reaching to find the possibilities of where to get purchasing power and not fall deeper in debt. Yes, call the bank; check balances, calculate how many paychecks will come in to cover the extras.
Hey, who started this gift-giving business anyway? It may help to know who's to blame for the compelling forces that seem to overcome us to give and why it just doesn't seem to be Christmas if we can't give those we love something. Did it come from the craftiness of wise advertisers that have commercialized and capitalized on the season? Is that where it all began?
The wonder of who started gift-giving takes us back to Bethlehem and the first Christmas morning when God, who so loved the world, clothed Himself in the wrappings of humanity to give the gift of Himself to man.
"For unto us a child was born, a Son was given."
Jesus is the ornament of splendor that lights the hearts of men with priceless worth and eternal value, who's presence transforms the ordinary to extraordinary and the plain to uniquely special. He is God's perfect gift to all. So God started it all, not the department stores.
Giving is not just a natural expression; it's a deep need within, a tugging on our hearts, with the desire to give. It's an ongoing lesson updated at Christmastime that's to dictate how we live all year long.
The coziest Christmas of all is to have Jesus, the gift of God to man, welcomed in the inn of our hearts and at our celebration. With Him came true "bling." So go ahead and continue to unwrap what Christmas is really all about with your faith and get ready to give gifts that are priceless even through the New Year. Gifts of love, compassion, kindness; and pledge your forgiveness to all.
Watch the sparkle of His presence light things up with the unmatched wonder of Christmas and hold onto that thought of gifts and giving through the New Year.
Pastor Janna Hogan leads Jesus is the Key Church & Ministries, 1701 South Babcock St., Melbourne. Call (321) 724-8434, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.jitk.org.