Christmas – Earning God’s Grace?

You better watch out, you better not cry
You better not pout, I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is comin’ to town

There was an explosion of emotion this week at my son’s house.

It’s that time of year when the world falls in love
Ev’ry song you hear seems to say
“Merry Christmas, may your New Year dreams come true”

There are people sick and tired of Christmas carols and can’t wait for this all to be over.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the tree tops glisten
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow

There are people who want to slap Bing Crosby silly until he wakes from his stupid dream.

What is the cause of all this hostility? Christmas!

My Dad visited as Santa each yearBefore I get into this post, you should know that I love celebrating Christmas. As a child, I might not have had a lot materially, but the joy of the season was not just in the toys under the tree, but the personal visit from Santa (played by my father), the beautiful lights, the smells of good food, and all the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins piling into our small home.

So this post is certainly not a raging against Christmas. Rather, it is some observations about what I believe Christmas has morphed into and the danger it presents to our relationship with God.

Let’s look at each of the three situations I mentioned.

White Christmas

If you are one of my northern neighbors, you might relate to this video. I wonder how many times this poor lady heard Bing croon ‘White Christmas’?

Being in sunny south Florida, I laughed myself silly watching it. My NY cousin, on the other hand, didn’t find it so amusing. But this doesn’t speak to Christmas specifically, does it?

Maybe, maybe not. But the hustle and bustle of this time of year (read stress) certainly doesn’t help.

Christmas stress

The Christmas Waltz

And speaking of ‘this time of year’, if you look around at the faces of your fellow shoppers, you might see a different picture than ‘The Christmas Waltz’ might suggest.

In conversations with many people, the overall theme is “I can’t wait ‘til this is over.” Why? In retailers’ zeal to capitalize on the season of giving, their Christmas inventory shows up on the sales floor earlier each year. So much so, that Thanksgiving has been all but forgotten.

Not only are Christmas decorations showing up on the sales floor alongside Halloween decorations, but now the stores open Thanksgiving evening. Forget spending the day with family and friends thanking God for all His provision. Instead, we plot and scheme the best way to take advantage of all the sales, showing we are not really satisfied and grateful for what we have.

And by the time Christmas rolls around, it’s more a sigh of relief that it’s over than a celebration of the greatest gift of all.

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Santa Claus is Coming to TownAnd that leads me to the main point. I’m in the retail industry, so I’m in the stores every day. I get to see people at their best and their worst. Unfortunately, Christmas seems to bring out the worst in people – from the parking lots to the long lines at the registers.

Oh, I don’t think we mean for it to happen. I think many of us really want to celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world. But the financial stress, coupled with the time crunch of getting everything done, weighs on us all – especially when lives are already full.

What happened between my son and granddaughter is a perfect example of this. And before I go on, the apple didn’t fall far from this tree (much to my chagrin.)

As much as I love my son, he is his mother’s son and tends to have a short fuse when stress builds. And his daughter, my precious granddaughter, in her need to make her feelings known, pushes just the right buttons to light the fuse. Not that she does it on purpose, but once started, she doesn’t know how to stop.

This weekend when my granddaughter came over, tears were in her eyes. But she didn’t want to talk. So I gave her the space she needed and she finally opened up.

Seems she pushed just the right button and my son exploded. The one gift she wanted, he told her he planned to get her, but because of her behavior it was not happening.

Now to an 11 year old, this announcement was the kiss of death to any semblance of a ‘merry’ Christmas. And before we look down our noses at my single-dad, working a full-time job and just graduated with a BA, let’s look in the mirror at ourselves while remembering the words of the song ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’.

What is wrong with this picture of gift giving and Santa Claus? It teaches us that we must earn our way to good things. It is the antithesis of God’s unmerited mercy and grace.

Teaching our children that we have to be good in order to get good things from us, teaches them they must be good in order to get good things from God. We are, after all, the picture of God for them.

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2 Responses to Christmas – Earning God’s Grace?

  1. David December 22, 2014 at 4:11 am #

    Okay so I’ve never thought of this in this manner; but you are right, and I’ve responded the same way, to my children when they were young, and to my granddaughter. So now I need to pray; which is a good thing, to ask The Lord to examine my heart and my motives. Thank you for your observations ; how we need to be more like our Saviour.
    Video was great I live in Iowa so it’s not as extreme, though it’s had its moments.

    • Ro Pinto December 24, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

      It’s so easy to slip into that thinking. And it’s not as though the Torah doesn’t promise blessing for obedience, and consequences for disobedience. But when it comes to celebrating the greatest gift, it’s free.

      Thanks for coming by, David. Glad you liked the video. 🙂

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