An Over-the-Top Christmas
Dec 22, 2010 by Mark Young | 0 Comments
There’s nothing quite like Christmas, is there? It’s America’s holiday on steroids. Excess rules the day. Some embrace it; others endure it. America’s story-teller, Garrison Keillor, quipped, “A lovely thing about Christmas is that it's compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together."
I happen to love the Christmas season. Once the calendar turns to December, each day brings us closer to the day we’ve been looking forward to. Along the way there are plenty of parties and cookies and concerts (and cookies) and decorations (and cookies) and family time (and COOKIES!). Did I mention cookies? And finally we wake on that glorious day of rejoicing: “The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born! (Luke 2:11; NLT)
Some folks seem to find a kind of perverse pleasure in being disgusted by the excess of it all. I guess they think “Bah humbug” is a biblical term. There’s another way to respond to what we consider over-the-top this Christmas. Why not turn our emotional indigestion into spiritual exhilaration at the excessive, profligate, superabundant, extravagant, love and grace of our God. Isn’t that what we’re celebrating to begin with?
The Apostle Paul, who was no stranger to overstatement and exaggeration, could barely contain himself when he reflected on God’s love and grace in our lives. Read the following passages from Paul. Even he can’t seem to come up with language that fully expresses the excess of God’s grace and the extravagance of Christ’s love.
Ephesians 1:7-8 (NIV)
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
Ephesians 2:6-10 (NIV)
6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 3:17-21 (The Message)
And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
The most meaningful excess of Christmas is not found in the decorations on our houses or presents under the tree but in the extravagant love and grace of our God. Vernon Grounds captured it well in the last refrain of his poem entitled, “Bethlehem.”
Immanuel! Yea, the old Story is true
That God in His love was spendthrift too!
So, go have another cookie, not because you deserve it or need it, but because it’s Christmas!
Exalting our spendthrift God,