Monday, December 8, 2014

The Joy of Getting

Charlie Brown's little sister Sally is writing an English theme entitled, "The True Meaning of Christmas."

She then begins to write, "To me, Christmas is the joy of getting."

Charlie Brown, reading over her shoulder informs her, "You mean 'giving'.  Christmas is the joy of giving."

She looks up at him and replies, "I don't have the slightest idea what you're talking about!"

This comic strip first appeared in newspapers in 1972 and it may be more appropriate today than it was even then.

I love opening presents, but I do realize that
there is more to Christmas than this!
Have we moved more toward a consumer culture where each individual becomes the sole "reason for the season"?

Or does this show that each generation faces the problem of selfishness and must overcome it on its own terms?

My guess is that the latter is correct.  It's always easier to take potshots at the younger generations rather than face my own shortcomings.

For instance, I like to bemoan the fact that a lot of nondenominational .tv churches advertise their worship as "experience times" which takes the focus away from God and puts it squarely on the individual.  Worship then becomes less about God and more about what you got out of it - what you experienced.  It is easier to critique this change in our culture than it is to critique our own congregation.  After all, we can all agree on how bad the other guy is getting!

This Sunday is the third Sunday of Advent and the Gospel reading for the Revised Common Lectionary is John 1:6-8, 19-28.  In this text, John the Baptist seems to be convincing us that he is not the Messiah (Christ in Greek).  He is pointing toward the Christ.  That's his job.

As we explore this text, we may also discover that we are not the Messiah either.  What if our real job this Christmas was not to get all that we could but to point toward the birth of Christ?

I think quite a few have more than a slight idea of what I'm talking about!

In Christ,


Photo by Niklas Nordblad via Wikimedia Commons

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