This afternoon I had a meeting that was held in one of the upscale malls in Indianapolis. Not only was I looking forward to having a great time with the team I am assisting, but I would also be able to visit “The Crossing” for the first time this Christmas season. Normally, I would have been here many times by now, but Janet and I have had something of a different Christmas season this year.
In fact, for many years, my office was within walking distance of the mall, in one of the buildings just north and in the same complex. I remember leaving my office to have lunch at Keystone at the Crossing every day for many years. In fact, I even took the approach that I could purchase all the gifts on my shopping list here – and it wasn’t often that I was wrong. I loved the place – but the truth of the matter is that for the past ten years or so, we have slowly been changing the way Janet and I shop for Christmas. Our lives no longer have the hustle and bustle that Christmas usually brings and we don’t have quite the urge to “shop till we drop.”
These days, we tend to give more thoughtful gifts. Perhaps the grandchildren will be disappointed that we haven’t filled every nook and cranny with some wrapped present, but that’s not the way we do it any more. For instance, I don’t know when we have ever enjoyed giving donations as much as we have this year. Yep, a little different approach. Let’s face it… Janet and I have been blessed beyond belief and this year it has been all about helping others and the joy of giving.
We have tried to place resources in the hands of organizations that can multiply the blessings to others. Whether it is supporting marginalized families and fighting poverty on the east side of Indianapolis or donating to a seminary here and there, we have been thoughtful in how we are celebrating the upcoming birth of Jesus. Sure, we will exchange gifts with each other as well, but neither of us really needs anything and we have been focusing on the family and the relationships we have with each other. Watching the kids, and grandchildren, has been wonderful to see as we grow closer to Christmas Day.
More than ever, we have been immersed in holiday devotionals and celebrations at church and at the schools our grandchildren attend. So I was slightly overwhelmed by the explosion of Christmas at the mall late this afternoon. I can see how it can be easy to get caught up in the spirit and forget the real reason for the season.
And that brings us to the verse for this evening. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah told us to expect the coming of the Messiah – the one we call Jesus. The Jewish people were expecting a triumphant King, but what we got was a child, born in a barn, vulnerable and human, as well as divine. Isaiah prophesied some of the names that He would be called and reminded us of various attributes of the arriving King. He tells us, in Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
My encouragement this evening is that the arrival of Jesus ushered in a new era in the history of the world – the first time that God dwelt, in human form, among us. That’s something to celebrate! My prayer is that we will all remember the solemnity of the birth of Jesus and that while we celebrate with friends, family and the giving of gifts, we may be aware of our responsibility to remember the spirit of Christmas each day of the year. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…