By eavesdropping I mean that I was initially trying to mind my own business but, due to the sheer volume of her voice, I soon could not help but overhear a goodly portion of the conversation she was having on her cell phone.
The woman was breathlessly detailing all the items she had purchased over a 48-hour period in a long soliloquy.
Gifts ranging from the new electric razor she had purchased for her brother-in-law (whom she described as wearing a perpetual five o’clock shadow) to the latest electronic doodad for her 10-year-old son (who also, it seems, is struggling with some manner of attention deficit disorder).
At the end of this stream of consciousness, she paused for breath and then opined in a weary voice: “I still feel like I’m missing something.”
Now I would be the last one to play Scrooge and bellow a surly “Bah, humbug!” to those for whom this time of year is a season of great material indulgence. Surely my own children can expect plenty of gifts wrapped in brightly-colored paper and stockings stuffed with toys, candy and fruit. My beloved can also expect her husband to surprise her with a tawdry startlement of some sort.
However, I also believe there is a profound danger in losing one’s bearings when tossed about by the winds of raging commerce.
For a moment, I want you to consider deeply the purpose for this season.
In between the festive family get-togethers, the riotous revelries and the maddening swirl of wrapping paper being tossed asunder, consider the One for whom this very season is named.
We sing so many hymns describing the circumstances of His birth, we’ve all heard the story and probably attended (or acted in) plenty of rickety pageants… but do we really give these details a weighty meditation?
Here we have the Creator of the very fabric of reality, entering into human existence in what basically amounts to an old barn.
Imagine, the same GOD whom created the processes of conception and birth, entering into human history by this same miraculous means. He was the inventor of something as precise and perfect in function as the umbilical cord, and then used one in His mother’s womb. He created such a thing as “oxygen” and then had to breathe it to live.
The very mind that imagined such a thing as “gravity” and spoke it into existence, had to learn to walk like every other infant born to woman. He that was the living Word still had to learn his ABCs. Even though the mind of GOD yet holds unfathomable mysteries, that all of our current technologies have not yet even begun to scratch the surface, He attended school and studied the Holy Scriptures as a boy, as well as a young man.
He learned His father’s trade as a carpenter while also studying His Father’s trade as our LORD. He worked until His muscles ached at the end of long day. He shivered in the bitter cold of winter and sweat under the heat of the sun that He set in the sky.
Growing in wisdom and understanding, He saw the social and political injustices that surrounded his nation as well as those of the world entire. The avarice and vanity, the savagery and injustice. His human heart was touched with sympathy towards those who suffered relentless oppression and His divine anger burned against the corrupt and the profane.
Of all the human beings who have ever walked the Earth, it was He alone who could rightly claim to rule over another man. Instead, it was as a servant that He offered Himself.
Not one of us can claim that we were awaiting His arrival, yet He came to us regardless… and He beckons us even now.
Even if you have utterly discounted Him as some poetic relic from an archaic era, or whether the tragedies you have endured have prompted you to turn your back on Him, He still pursues you.
Unlike every other religious or humanistic system of belief, there is no means by which you can justify yourself by your own merits. He doesn’t offer you a slippery ladder of self-righteousness to climb but a sovereign hand that pulls you out from the drowning depths of sin and despair.
So do not pity that infant born in a stable, be in awe of Him! Let the arrival of a lowborn child in an obscure corner of the Middle East shake you to your very foundations. Be amazed by the carpenter from Nazareth!
Let the teachings of this strange peasant utterly confound you, let His miserable death horrify you, let His victorious resurrection astound you, let His promises inspire you.
Tremble at the very thought that your Creator would condescend to do as much for you.
Otherwise, you are missing everything.