The Christmas Gospel

After we hitched the trailer to the SUV, my wife and I went to a tree farm for a Christmas tree.  No, not the cut-your-own kind.  The trees were neatly stacked upright on frames: scotch, pine, fir, you name it.  We got a really fragrant white pine that was a little dirty.  I hosed it off first and let it dry before planting it in our living room.

It’s a figure of speech.  We already have hardwood floors.

There are all kinds of mouthwatering cookies around the house ridiculing my good intentions.  Along with more treats from some of the children in my wife’s Sunday school class.  
Betty just called in from the kitchen asking about an address for the Christmas cards we’re distributing–you know the ones, the one-page glossies with our picture on.  “Don’t forget to pray for us!”  The kind we find in our church and street mailboxes.
Betty’s been making forays to the malls and elsewhere to find the right presents for the grandchildren.  And others.  In both our immediate as well as extended families, we don’t exchange many gifts anymore so that task isn’t as all-consuming as it used to be.  But it takes time.  Betty bakes some presents too.  
At night we pull the plug on the outdoor lights, head to bed, and wonder what holiday assignment was left undone.  Sunday is our Christmas program and a lot of people are putting a lot of time in getting ready.  Then next week are the Christmas eve services.    

We used to all sleep around the tree downstairs in the family room but with two married children and one on the other side of the world, that’s not going to happen this year.  I don’t care what Betty says, I am not going to let a perfectly good bed upstairs go to waste!
If you enjoy Christmas traditions and practices in your family, you know the warm feeling of familiarity and sentiment.  It’s a wonderful time of year.  But behind the carols on the radio and the glossy advertisements selling the hottest presents of the season, can lurk some dark shadows.  This year people were killed by other shoppers on Black Friday.  People fighting over dolls and flat screen TVs?  And finding a place to park at the mall can raise any American’s blood pressure.  Family members get irritated that someone else has bought Grandma what they were going to buy.  Parents disappointed that little Johnny and little Janey seem bored by their very expensive gifts.  Extended families dueling over the best dates for family feasts.  Church members upset because so-and-so got the lead part in the pageant instead of them.  A wife upset that her husband won’t help put up the decorations.

Selfishness, sin, and neglect, all happening within sight of the birth of the gospel, the good news.  How good is it that He came!