Religion of Thursday, 19 December 2013
Source: Kingsley Enninful
“SALES! SALES! SALES!” goes out the cry when the year slowly grinds to an end. Over the next few days, millions will spend billions in retail sales in the mall. The turn of the century gave birth to a child. A child conditioned to act on impulse and solve problems with purchases. Born in the luxurious offices of corporations and worshipped by the three self-men. Conceit, selfishness and self- centeredness. They proclaim their message “we can find happiness in our purchases” as they bow to the new born king - the king of the mall.
Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.1
“In the 1950s kids lost their innocence. They were liberated from their parents by well-paying jobs, cars, and lyrics in music that gave rise to a new term - the generation gap.
In the 1960s, kids lost their authority. It was a decade of protest---church, state, and parents were all called into question and found wanting. Their authority was rejected, yet nothing ever replaced it.
In the 1970s, kids lost their love. It was the decade of me-ism dominated by hyphenated words beginning with self. Self-image, Self-esteem, Self-assertion. It made for a lonely world. Kids learned everything there was to know about sex and forgot everything there was to know about love, and no one had the nerve to tell them there was a difference.
In the 1980s, kids lost their hope. Stripped of innocence, authority and love and plagued by the horror of a nuclear nightmare, large and growing numbers of this generation stopped believing in the future.
In the 1990s kids lost their power to reason. Less and less were they taught the very basics of language, truth, and logic and they grew up with the irrationality of a postmodern world.
In the new millennium, kids woke up and found out that somewhere in the midst of all this change, they had lost their imagination. Violence and perversion entertained them till none could talk of killing innocents since none was innocent anymore.” 2
What does Christmas really mean then, if it is not about shopping and giving gifts?
Ah! But Christmas is about a gift…not of something but of someone. The gift of a king. It is said time is the brush of God, as he paints his masterpiece on the heart of humanity. In due time, God sent a child born in a manger amidst sheep. Yet the wise men knew where to find Him. Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home.
The story is told of a rich man who had a huge art gallery in his home. He also had a wonderful son. The son would often walk the streets and one day he befriended a beggar. He began seeing this beggar regularly, telling him all about his family; describing his father's home, art gallery, and all that his father did in business. The beggar grew fond of this young man and looked forward to seeing him each day. One day the young man stopped coming. A day went by, two days, a week, and then a month. The beggar later found out that the son had suddenly died. So he went and got himself some paper and crayons, drawing a portrait of the son. He then went to the home of the rich man and gave it to the gate keeper. "Would you please give this to the father? His son was very good to me and I've drawn his portrait because I was told that he has an art gallery."
The gatekeeper looked at the odd, childish drawing and said "okay", sending the beggar away. But he thought this was a kind gesture and looked for the right opportunity to give it to the father.
One day the rich man was driving out and the gatekeeper told him about what the beggar had said and gave him the portrait. The rich man took it and looked at it; saying nothing in return.
Some years later the beggar found out that the rich man had passed away and that there was to be an auction of all the art hanging in his gallery. The beggar decided to find some nice clothes and see if he could squeeze in. And he did. Before the auction began he walked the halls to see if the son's portrait was hanging with all the grand masters. The auctioneer came with all the elite buyers, studying each piece. Shortly after, the gravel was pounded and the auctioneer began. Except there was a condition left in the will, "The rich man said this portrait of his son is to be the first one auctioned." The announcement was met with moans and groans. No one was bidding on that. After long moments of silence the beggar put his hand into his pocket and took out all he had and bid. No counter offer was made and the gravel pounded, SOLD! The beggar quickly made his way to pick-up the portrait, yet as he walked away the gravel was pounded again. The auctioneer said, "There is a second condition in the will, and it says that whoever bids on the portrait of the son gets the whole art gallery!" You see, when you get the Son, you get the whole thing. You move from death to life. You are reconciled to a God who loves you. 3
This Christmas let us not seek happiness in the things we can afford, which easily fades. It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. 4
The kings of the mall will try to sway you to find happiness in things. People will always be more important than things. We spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less. We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time. These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes. 5 Behind the debris of these solemn supermen, and self-styled happiness givers, there stands the gigantic figure of One: because of whom, by whom, in whom, and through whom alone, mankind may still have peace – the person of Jesus Christ. 6
I present Him as the way, the truth and the life. The true meaning of Christmas. Do you know Him? – The King of them all.
?6 Dr. Bob Moorehead. The paradox of our time.
? 5 G.K. Chesterton, Brave New Family: G.K. Chesterton on Men and Women, Children, Sex, Divorce, Marriage and the Family
?1 Joshua Becker. Holiday Shopping. We Can Do Better. http://www.becomingminimalist.com/even-better-than-shopping/
?4 Pope John Paul II quote http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/
? 2 Ravi Zacharias, Recapture the Wonder
?3 Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message