Christmas 2017

Christmas reminds us of the importance of giving and receiving. When the act of giving becomes reciprocal, it loses its joy. The interchange of giving and receiving can become a burden unless we acknowledge that the act of giving should come out of a heart overflowing with a desire to share.

Strangely, the desire to give does not come from being rich. Sometimes the richest are the stingiest and the poorest are the most generous. Poverty is not a prerequisite for a grateful heart either. No. Gratefulness arises out of humility, the antithesis of entitlement which plagues our country.

Christmas revolves around two icons: Santa Claus and Baby Jesus.

The first Santa was a fourth century Greek Bishop and gift giver who lived in the area referred to as Asia Minor. Saint Nicolas became the most popular saint of Christendom and his legend morphed into the Santa Claus story we know today. Baby Jesus is entirely different from Santa Claus, though it was Jesus who inspired the Bishop to give without expecting gifts in return.

When we envision Santa Claus today, we see bright red on a palette of pure white. When we envision Baby Jesus, we see a baby barely visible among shades of brown in a dirty stable. Santa Claus has a loud laugh. Baby Jesus is sleeping quietly. Santa Claus appears mysteriously out of the sky in a man-made sleigh pulled by animals that can fly though no one actually sees him do this. Baby Jesus appears in the midst of political unrest and is hidden away out of sight. His parents, shepherds, and wise men witness his presence. And it is this Jesus who is the true reason we should celebrate Christmas.

The Christ Child should be the focus of Christmas; the reason for the season. Jesus is the incarnation of a perfect God who came to earth to show his love for you. This baby is different than all the babies that have ever been born. This baby is the only human being who lived without sin his entire time on earth.

The prophet Isaiah said our Savior will be without deceit. Who can say that today or any day in history? We cannot trust people who are deceitful, especially those who show a pattern of deceit.

From the beginning of time, deceit has been a problem. Deceit entered the garden in the form of a serpent. The serpent deceived Eve. Eve deceived Adam. Adam deceived God. Cain deceived his brother. Abraham deceived the Pharaoh. Isaac deceived the king of the Philistines. Rebecca deceived Isaac. Jacob deceived his father. All eleven sons of Jacob deceived their brother, Joseph. All this occurred in Genesis.

Humility before Almighty God is the antidote for a deceitful heart.

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3).

There is a heresy percolating today even among Christians. I believe new ideas appear when people do not pay attention to the truth found in Scripture. Heresy was prevalent even in the first century but Scripture is clear and unfettered. Scripture is the pure spiritual milk on which we all should feed.

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good (I Peter 2:1-3).

This is my prayer for Christmas 2017.


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