Christmas, by Greg Matson
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.”
The holiday season is upon us again. Door buster Thursday, Black Friday, Prime day and Cyber Monday have come and gone. Walmart and Menards started preparing for Christmas in September. It’s an exciting time of the year for both the church and secular world.
As a child, Christmas meant we would make the annual pilgrimage from Chicago to Bemidji to my grandparent’s house. We would leave 30-degree weather and drive all night with a station wagon packed full of presents to Bemidji where the temps would drop to 30 degrees below zero and the brown ground of Chicago was replaced by mounds of snow! Upon arrival my dad would proclaim that we had driven to the “edge of the world.” Cars often didn’t start after sitting out in the subzero temps and if they did it would be cause for celebration. It was a time spent with family.
I remember that the excitement of Christmas as a child was all about the presents. We would count our presents and arrange them under the tree so that we could get them faster when handed out. The wait to open the presents was agonizing as we sat down for dinner and then had to wait until dishes were cleared and washed. Finally, the moment would arrive and we would sit down as a large extended family to open presents. In a matter of minutes, all the presents were handed out and opened. For the next several days the toys were played with but gradually lost their luster. I remember that the toys themselves never lived up to the hype that the glitzy commercials had promised. I remember being left with the feeling of disappointment.
As a child I knew Christmas was about the celebration of the birth of Jesus – being raised in a Christian family – but my heart was drawn towards the newest and shiniest toys the world had to offer! Reflecting on this I have to wonder at times if I am still that same child, but now the toys are larger, faster and much more expensive. I don’t think I’m alone because the people on TV commercials appear so happy getting their new cars and such. Wouldn’t it be funny if they had the same commercial gifting the wife the same car but 15 years older with all the rust and scratches?
In contrast, the shepherds were not left with the feeling of disappointment or wanting more upon the birth of Jesus. Their wait was years in the making. Imagine their excitement and awe that God would come in the form of a child as prophesized in Isaiah.
God’s ultimate gift is Himself — Sovereign, in control of all things and everlasting. He is our Wonderful Counselor aware of all our needs and our Prince of Peace.
Imagine what the commercial could look like bringing this reality to the world? Let me challenge you by stating the obvious- that our very lives are supposed to be that advertisement.
Merry Christmas, Greg.