Why don't candy canes taste as good on December 26th as they did the previous four weeks?
Overnight, radio stations have stopped playing Christmas music and resumed regular programming. Shiny packages wrapped with care are now shreds of white with ribbons trailing like puppy leashes. Holiday dinners are now leftovers.
Christmas trees are looking tired, and the glow of the rooftop lights is overshadowed by the prospect of bringing them down. And even as you read this, some are returning gifts they received only yesterday.
Christmas appears to be screeching to a halt if you merely take into account those cultural embellishments that we hang on the holy day like flashy ornaments. Their temporariness reflects the material life we live now, but the true gift of Christmas is eternal.
The "good tidings of great joy" have never been rescinded by their giver. The world doesn't outgrow the gift, its beauty doesn't fade with time, and it remains as consistent and relevant in 2010 as it was in 33 A.D. There is no expiration date on God's version of love and grace.
But why did God offer his love through this baby?
Max Lucado writes, "If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist. But since our greatest need was forgiveness, God sent us a Savior."
Happily for us, as John R.W. Stott said, "The gospel is good news of mercy to the undeserving. The symbol of the religion of Jesus is the cross, not the scales."
Spiritually speaking, thank goodness we do not get what we deserve, because we all carry around the ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge -- and worse.
But God gave us himself through Jesus.
A.W. Tozer says, "An infinite God can give all of himself to each of his children. He does not distribute himself that each may have a part, but to each one he gives all of himself as fully as if there were no others."
The birth of Christ was a gift to all the world, but it is an individual gift to you and me as well, designed to fill our voids, heal our wounds and receive our devotion as only an intimate creator can.
We are meant to walk through life hand-in-hand with the Gift.
As I celebrate Christmas, I want to leave a legacy for my children and grandchildren: the good news of the gift which fits perfectly every need known to man, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
The words of a regenerated Ebenezer Scrooge never fail to move me: "I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach."
And I would add, "I will not shut out the greatest gift, but receive it with my whole heart and share it to the best of my ability." May we never take the gift of Christmas for granted.