Christmas giving

Published 6:00 am Friday, December 10, 2021

A recent email: “Pray for my children. I know they will have nothing for Christmas, and it’s tearing my family apart. I don’t know how to tell a child Santa is not coming.”

“God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph.’” (Luke 1:26)

Churches regularly receive phone calls at Christmas: “Sorry to ask for help, but I don’t know what to do?!”

“That’s all right. How can we help you?”

“My husband’s been laid off, and we have no savings for Christmas presents.”

“I’m a single parent, and everything I make goes toward paying the bills.”

“My daughter has a drug problem, and I’m raising her children and doing everything I can, but there is no money for Christmas.”

“Is there anything you can do to help our children have a better Christmas?”

Our church, like others, will do what we can. Families receive food and gifts, but it never seems to be enough.

“Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. ‘Don’t be frightened, Mary,’ the angel told her, ‘for God has decided to bless you! You will become pregnant and have a son, and you are to name him Jesus.” (1:29-31)

Unfortunately, Christmas is cleverly advertised as Santa Claus and presents. We talk giving but fantasize receiving. You say it’s about family and friends. You try to remember the celebration of Christ’s birth. But turn on the television; visit a department store or pick up a bulky newspaper full of ads and “The reason for the season is gifts!”

Christmas has become a glaring reminder of who receives generously and who gets little or nothing. Poorer families see other children loaded with more toys than they can ever use, so the hidden message? “Christmas is for others, not them.”

Mary asked, “How can I have a baby? I am a virgin.” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. The baby born to you will be holy and will be called the Son of God. For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:34-35,37)

Jesus was born in a barn with farm animals and shepherds as witnesses. He grew up the son of a blue-collar worker in a land occupied by Rome. Throughout his earthly life, Jesus had few if any material possessions. How did we get everything so mixed up? How can we change? How can we recapture the Christ in Christmas?

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants. May everything you have said come true.” And then the angel left. (Luke 1:38)

REV. LARRY E. DAVIES can be reached at larrydavies@vaumc.org.