When I was a child, I loved Christmas. Now, as an adult, I still love Christmas, which I truly find intriguing considering how much I despise putting the icicle lights on the house. Don’t misunderstand me, I love the fact that the lights are up…and lit. They bring something festive to a relatively bleak time of the year. I am reminded of how at “just the right time,” Jesus came…bringing “light” into a very dark world. We need that light all the more in 2020.
I think that stockings were my favorite part of Christmas. No…not the kind that come in the giant Easter egg that Mom kept in her drawer…the kind that you hang by the chimney with care. The earliest stocking experience I remember as a child, was coming down the dark brown, carpeted stairs (which incidentally still exists and is over 50 years old) and spotting my stocking hanging on a curtain rod. We used curtain rods, nails, screws, door knobs, and may have had to resort to ceiling fan blades if we hadn’t finally had a chimney installed. Sticking out of the top of my large colorful stocking was a new, red, toy airplane…right next to a package of “big boy pants” and some tube socks. Had it not been for the airplane…I might have written Santa a nasty note. I remember taking the airplane out of the stocking and thinking…“How did Santa’s elves make this? Boy, are they good at making toys.” I then considered… “I thought elves just made toys…what’s with the underwear?”
I remember talking to my friends about Christmas and stockings and such. I was confused as to why some of my friends got presents from Santa…while others, like myself, only received a filled stocking from Santa…and still others, got nothing from Santa at all. I came to learn a very important truth…Santa loves some kids more than others. I knew that this was much more likely than that silly “Naughty/Nice List,” because I was perpetually on the naughty list…and yet, my brothers and I, both received the same load of goods in our stockings each year.
As I have aged, so has my taste in desirable goods brought by Santa. Now, instead of airplanes and toys…I like coffee, chocolate, tools, and fishing lures. I still wonder how elves make all of that stuff.
Over the last few years, I have taken the liberty of “helping Santa out.” Each year, I secretly purchase things that “I” would like in my stocking…and then, when no one is looking, I stuff the items into my own stocking. I do this mostly because I think it is funny…and, I suppose, to be fully truthful…because I am a little bit selfish.
Despite my intentions of humor...this practice paints a picture for me, of something that we read about in 1 Corinthians chapter 13. This New Testament chapter is all about love…it speaks to what love is and what love is not. Love is NOT self seeking. Love IS kind. Love does NOT make things about ourselves. Yet, let’s be honest with one another, I am NOT the only one doing this. Perhaps I AM the only one doing this with his stocking at age 44…but we all…yes ALL…tend to make this life about ourselves. We tend to make the love in 1 Corinthians 13 about ourselves. In an interesting paradox…we make church about ourselves…when it is supposed to be ALL about Jesus.
As Paul writes in Philippians chapter 2, “We are to be like Christ Jesus…who was God…but He lowered himself in humility…may we learn to have the same attitude as Christ Jesus” (paraphrase). This life is all about Him…and yet…He…in an amazing act of love…made His love all about us.
Despite the fact that I will likely stuff my own stocking again with goodies this year…I pray that I can come to fill other’s stocking with love more than my own…but...I should probably make sure that there isn't a foot in them at the time. May you be led to do likewise.