Friday, December 18, 2009

A Giving Embrace

When the time couldn’t have been any more perfect, God gave us exactly what we needed; His Son. Born human just like us, he came to set us free…” – Galatians 4:4-5 (RSV)

I still live at home. There it is; I said it. And while it isn’t the most chest puffing, nose tipped up statement to deliver, I have really enjoyed my time back at home. My parents have been awesome and I have loved to interact with them again but in a much different fashion then them simply disciplining me.

On most Saturdays when we both can, my dad and I will go to the gym and workout together. We usually grab some coffee afterwards and run some errands. I know, I know…a nice little Saturday, right? Equally, my mom and I will do stuff throughout the week. We will grab lunch of coffee, take care of some things she needs done or any other miscellaneous things you might imagine.

Last week, after we grabbed some breakfast we headed out to do some Christmas shopping at Oak Brook. After picking up the pre known items, we wandered a bit ourselves, browsing different stores and Christmas decorations. Quite honestly, I cannot remember all the places we looked or went to, aside from one.

As I entered a particular clothing store; one I happen to own some clothes from in all honesty; I noticed their ad campaign out front in the window. I saw two very attractive people smiling. The man was somewhat highlighted as he was giving this beautiful woman a box from the store he was representing. In front of both of them there was something written on the window. In big, shiny, silvery letters it read “EMBRACE GIVING.’

Walking through the clothing boutique I thought how much of a better ad campaign that was than so many of the others I had seen over the years. It has come to irk me a little that retail America feels we should care just as much about buying for ourselves during the Christmas season as we should for others. A classic one is the old ‘Is it really better to give than to receive?” Or, “Hurry in! Doorbusters! Buy it while there’s time!” Yeah, telling someone to embrace giving was far nobler.

Continuing to browse the store, I saw the same items that are usually there: scarves, jackets, shirts, and pants; nothing too special. And seeing as my brothers love to get dressed up in jeans and plaid shirts, it was a safe bet I wouldn’t be finding their gift anywhere in those premises. I walked out and headed up to meet with my mom. As I walked past the front of the shop, these beautiful people caught my eye again.

I turned and found myself just staring at them. I was focusing on the box. Though I will never know what was in the box this man was giving I can imagine it was an item I had just seen in the store; scarf, jacket, shirt, or pair of pants. My eyes fixated on the writing again, “EMBRACE GIVING’, and I thought to myself, is this what giving is all about? Is this the best kind of giving we can do for Christmas? Is this what we think the best kinds of gifts are?

Imagine finding yourself back in first century Bethlehem. On a cold, dark night you are out watching your sheep. Just like any other night you are being responsible for your flock, making sure to ward off any impending dangers when all of a sudden, LIGHT! Angels appear and you are scared to death. Floating in the middle of the sky, they tell you to not be afraid. They have come to deliver an important message to you! The angel declares, “I bring you good news of great joy, that will be for all the people. Today, in the town of David a pair of new pants shall be waiting; they are the perfect size. This will be the sign to you; you will find a very handsome man in a sweater. He will be holding a box from your favorite store…”

Can you imagine? What if that first Christmas God had embraced giving as this billboard desired? What if he gave us the number one physical, material item we wanted most? It would fit perfectly or shine like crazy. Surely that was what these shepherds really wanted.

And yet, what does He do instead? He sends a baby; a smelly, needy, potentially goofy looking baby. You can’t wear it on Friday night. You can drive around and pick up girls in it. Quite honestly, God may not have even given us what we wanted in that moment.

This Christmas some of us may be feeling exactly that. While it may not be sweaters, pants, or ties that we are wanting maybe we are asking for some healing, a job, peace of mind, less stress, more family time or any number of other things. And while I don’t look to diminish those desires remember this Christmas that God gave, and continues to give us exactly what we need…

“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

…God Himself.

1 comment:

Mimi said...

Hey Ryan, so I randomly sort-of stumbled upon your blog, and I guess I could've read it, gone on my way, and I wouldn't seem like a weirdo or something.

But when I read something I like, I like giving feed back, if I can. And I really liked what you had to say. You are well written and I like how you articulate yourself, your message is thought provoking, relevant and even a good sense of humor to it. :)

Keep it up, and I hope you are doing well.