Love Gives the Best—2023

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, sometimes called Black Friday because of the trauma of holiday greed, my car radio rudely switched songs in the middle of my easy listening music. An up-tempo Andy Williams launched into It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.  I was not feeling it. At the least they should have waited until December to start holiday music. But the message was received loudly and clearly, get in the Christmas shopping mood now, or all the good stuff will be gone or cost even more. What has happened to Christmas gift giving?  

It starts when we are young. What do you want for Christmas, boys and girls? Later it becomes, What did you get for Christmas? Selfishness is built in. The “present” becomes the point of Christmas time. There is a healthier guide to gift-giving for parents and grandparents. It goes like this, limit up to 4 gifts: something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read. If giving to another adult, you can substitute with something to eat, like fruit or nuts, or a restaurant card. Ask yourself, who am I trying to impress? 

When the Church began to celebrate the birth of Christ, some 300 years after the fact, the image of the Magi bearing tribute offerings to the newborn King of the Jews was emphasized. The gifts were for Jesus. Going forward a century, Christians used the day to worship and give gifts to the poorest people in the area; think of the Saint Nicolas story. In time Christmas Day came wrapped in all kinds of local traditions, blending secular religious practices and fundraising. Martin Luther is credited with the indoor, candle-lit evergreen tree. Christmas became fantasized and commercialized in the 1800’s. Today, getting in the Christmas spirit is demanded by advertising and social pressures. 

My model and mentor for being a pastor was Dr. James G. Harris, Senior Minister of University Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Harris would repeat occasionally before the ushers received the Sunday morning offering, “Anyone can give without loving, but no one can love without giving.”  

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Love gives the best. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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