Christmas 2018 is now in the rear view mirror and in several days we will be celebrating the beginning of 2019! As is my custom, I have been reflecting on the events of this Christmas season. It seemed like so many things remained the same and yet, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, things seemed a little different to me.
In an odd sort of way, the season kind of snuck up on us. Most of the post Christmas sales started right after Thanksgiving and stores were marking down merchandise up to 50% and more far ahead of the normal times for such discounts. One of my favorite shoe stores was selling very expensive shoes for more than 60% off – before Christmas. When I stopped by there yesterday, everything was back to normal price and it was a day after Christmas. When has that ever happened?
The credit card companies reported that sales for the Christmas season were up more than 5.5% and that seemed to signal some sort of buying frenzy on Wall Street. But the same folks who recorded such an increase in sales also acknowledged that their profits were down and even though revenue was strong, they will make less money than least year.
On a more personal front, Janet and I usually spend several days shopping for children and grandchildren. Yet this year, people were pretty specific that they would rather have money than numerous gifts that wouldn’t mean as much to them. So, we obliged them and decided, for the first time, that we would provide checks to those who would rather not have a gift.
Janet and I, who usually go all out on each other, shopped together and decided that this year we would give to others as we have been blessed and not spend as much on ourselves. We donated to charities and will take a few days of vacation at our favorite resort in March. All this goes to say that Christmas felt a little different this year – not bad, mind you – just different.
Probably the biggest thing I noticed was the amount of trash to be disposed of Christmas morning after all the packages were opened. By contrast to other years, there just wasn’t much. In fact, everything fit in one lawn size garbage bag. I remember it wasn’t too many years ago that Janet and I were breaking down boxes and had three or four trash bags full of used wrapping paper. But not this year!
And as the grandchildren continue to grow older, it occurs to me that we will have a number of years before the next generation is born and we go through another round of building wagons, bicycles and every other kind of small child’s toys and gifts. We have already been through this with our own children and grandchildren so it won’t be anything new when it happens.
We had our traditional brunch together – and there was some comfort in knowing that everyone occupied their regular places at the table and the menu, that has been the same for years, is still something we all look forward to. So in the midst of some change, there was a large part of our celebration that remained the same.
That same feeling applies to the way we interact with God. We develop patterns and spiritual habits that are familiar to us but, as we mature, our habits and ways of doing things change. The Holy Spirit reveals more of God’s word to us and we understand more than we did when we were young. Yet, the familiarity of the Father remains with us. I want to make sure that we all understand that the interpretation of the Bible doesn’t change – for that is a slippery slope – but our application of the Scripture changes as we mature in our faith.
Our verse for this evening affirms the fact that God is constant and that part of our spiritual journey will never change. In Revelation 1:8, Jesus states, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”
My encouragement this evening is that God doesn’t change – He is reliable – in the past, in the present and in the future. That should be comforting news to every believer. My prayer is that while we may change our habits, traditions and practices throughout the various stages of our lives, we will always have the familiarity of God to lead us through all the days of our lives – and beyond. Have a great day in the Lord grace and peace…