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Give the gift of your body, your spirit and soul | Church Corner

I’ve been around the Christian celebration of Christmas, and all the ornamentation of this holiday, since birth.  I’ve heard all the ranting about how it’s actually some pagan holiday that has nothing to do with Jesus, and that the Christmas tree and ornaments and lights and gift giving and receiving all have some evil inception and have nothing whatsoever to do with the Baby in the manger.  And I’ve done my share of yowling about the commercialization of Christmas and all the money we spend, and sardonically quipped about how we spend money buying gifts no one wants to give to people we don’t even like, and how it’s expected of us and we play into the game . . . yada, yada, yada . . . or some such blah, blah.

Then, a few years ago, I had a rather substantial reorientation of my thinking.  Take a look at this stuff: there will be about $450 billion dollars worth of economic activity generated in the United States alone this year for the celebration of Christmas. So what does that mean internationally? Perhaps more than a trillion dollars? We’ll be passing around nearly half-a-trillion here at home, so I don’t think this number is out of line.  And it’s estimated that we’ll spend more than $3 billion just buying Christmas trees . . . hmmmmmmmm . . .

So something just over 2,000 years ago, a baby was born in the little village of Bethlehem, just a few miles outside of Jerusalem. The baby was reasonably nondescript, as Jewish babies go . . . and there were lots of them born that winter.  But we have some story around this baby!  His momma was preinformed of her pregnancy and that it was of divine intervention and the baby was on special mission from God.  And his ‘daddy’ also received special angelic visitation to help him cope with a pregnancy he didn’t have anything to do with, but for which he would be credited.  And Joe was also told that the baby was divine in nature and on special mission.

Shepherds were startled with the news of the birth, on that first Christmas night, by an angelic being . . . and then a whole gang of them.  And somewhere in the Far East – beyond the borders of the Middle East – some early astronomer/astrologers were star-gazing, when a phenomenon caught their eye so powerfully that they would come to risk their lives and several small fortunes to go find the baby that they knew would be at the bottom of the star-light.

And now, 2,017 years later, we’re spending several large fortunes – each year – to say “Happy birthday!” to the baby, that grew into his mission, and completed it!  And the whole world is joining in the party!  There are hundreds of thousands of folks – probably millions – scattered all around the world, whose sole product is icons for this baby – in some phase of his life and mission – and perhaps the majority of those folks don’t either understand what they’re creating, out of habit, nor believe in this divine intervention in the flow of the history of our little world . . . but they keep on going to work and creating.

So someone, somewhere, will create something they don’t understand or believe in the concept of, and someone else who doesn’t even want it will buy it and gift it to someone they don’t even like . . . or, perhaps we’re a loving parent or grandparent or friend, looking for that special gift for a special someone, and some little piece of creation will be just the thing . . . and we’ll all be doing it in the name of the baby from Bethlehem, Judea, Israel, that was born, lived and died 2,000 years ago.

Whether or not you understand or believe in what you’re doing, Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, is being honored with a party, complete with noise and gifts, and food and drink, and ridiculous celebration!  Why do we do it?  For the baby!  Here’s to the baby!

“Happy birthday Jesus, and thank you so much for getting involved with us so we can have such a wonderful party now, and then, one day, when it’s time, the greatest party ever!  Thank you!”

This year, give God a gift. Give him your self – body, soul and spirit. And if you’ve already gifted him like that, re-gift him with the same thing.  He loves it when we do that!

Dale Pratt can be reached at dale@cedarcommunitychurch.org

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