Like most people, I love gifts. As a little boy, Christmas morning was a delightful time with family unwrapping the treasures given and received. Being a member of a farming family and enduring the vagaries of farm income, some Christmases found nothing more than simple gifts of necessities under the tree. Underwear, socks, toothpaste and brush were just as much appreciated in those years as were the toys and shiny bicycle in the prosperous years.
No matter the financial status, always the Christmas spirit, the reason for the season was the prevailing theme of our celebration. The act of giving was predominant. Receiving a nice present was cool, but we were taught who and why we were celebrating. That mindset was a prelude to maturing in a community of like-minded farm folks. Life was enjoyed in very simple ways and the gifts of a loving God were not taken lightly.
It seems much has changed in America. The biggest, brightest, most expensive gifts fill the kitchen with new appliances, the den with a 60″ widescreen, the driveway with a new Mercedes, and closets with brand new designer clothes. Most often the holiday decorations glamorize Santa Claus, snowmen, and Disney characters. Rarely do I see a crèche or angels on front lawns and certainly not at the county courthouse as I remember from my boyhood community. Times have changed. Jesus, the babe celebrated in the book of Matthew, is no longer center stage in our festivities. His presence is no longer America’s reason for the season.
Jesus, the greatest gift-giver of all time, is relegated to candlelight services on Christmas Eve and nice music on the radio. The giant retailers which pumped our heads full of pre-Christmas sales events and materialistic dreams of unaffordable gift ideas take a breather on the holiday only to return with a vengeance after Christmas Day to once again entice us into more debt buying the “must-have”, discounted unsold merchandise.
It’s a scam! Americans have been hoodwinked into spending billions of dollars to create a sense of “peace on earth, goodwill to men” when that peace and goodwill are free for the asking from the greatest gift-giver ever to walk this earth. Just ask. Just seek. Just knock. It’s all there in one neat, readily available package and it costs nothing other than a willingness to open the door to the One who dispenses love and compassion as eternal gifts.
7“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8
Love, joy, and peace are the 1st three of the fruits of the Spirit detailed in Galatians 5:22-23. They are internal gifts which will be realized when walking this journey with God as a constant companion. They were made incarnate in the character of Jesus as depicted in our Christian Scriptures. They are attainable elements of a life surrendered to the grace of an almighty God. This is not just a fairy tale or myth. Jesus is truth given not only at Christmas but every day of the year to those willing to ask, seek, and knock. Try it. Those shiny presents under the tree will fade quickly. The gift of Jesus will not!