Buying Christmas gifts is not as easy as it looks on TV. Christmas shopping can actually be dangerous. Just getting a parking space at Wal-Mart can be a life-threatening experience. You circle the lot over and over and watch the shoppers leaving the store so you can get their parking space when they leave. Just as the car pulls out and you start to pull in a big rusty van darts into the space ahead of you. You think about expressing a cheerful holiday sentiment to him until he gets out and he has tattoos and chains and black leather clothing. The next customer whose space you covet doesn’t leave he just slumps over the wheel from exhaustion.
There are other hazards. For example if you need a battery for your child’s toy the print telling you so will be very small. If we could find a font that small, we could print the entire text of Bible inside matchbook covers and flood China with the gospel. If you give little Johnny a toy with no battery for Christmas, you need to remember this is the kid who is going to pick your rest home someday.
Your own family is sometimes in on the conspiracy. Your wife is knitting by the fire-place and she casually mentions that she needs to make a little return and would you mind maybe just taking it along when you run out and pick up some milk. You innocently take the bait and find yourself standing in line until there is a test pattern on the TV when you get home and your dear better half is sweetly resting with visions of sugar plumbs pirouetting in little brain.
A petite elderly lady at the grocery, who looks for all the world like your saintly grandmother, runs over your foot. You’re just trying to reach for the last bag of the special your wife tells you, “don’t even bother to come home without it.”
You snapped up six “Tickle me Elmos” because you remembered that they were impossible to find and when you get home your wife looks at you like you came from another planet and informs you that was last year. This year a man who gives Tickle Me Elmo could be brought up on child neglect charges.
Peace and goodwill can be illusive even at Christmastime. It’s always been that way. Even the peaceful pastoral setting of Jesus’ birth was soon shattered by Herod’s homicidal horde.
We do hope your heart and home are filled with peace this Christmas. But Christmas does not bring peace. Only Christ himself can give that.
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)
I wish for you the experience of the fullness of the Spirit which is the only true Spirit of Christmas.