Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
(1 John 2:6, NIV)
As I write this, Christmas is just 14 days away.
Our Christmas shopping is pretty much all done and has been for several weeks. I say this not to boast but because we have simplified our shopping quite a bit.
This time of year, can be a difficult time for many who are struggling financially. There are many expectations and burdens that our culture puts on us in terms of giving gifts. According to an article on Market Watch, the average American will take on about 1200 dollars in debt this Christmas, with about 10 percent who will only be able to even make the minimum payments.
We say it every year from the pulpit, from our living rooms, and at our dinner tables: Christmas is not about the gifts we receive.
Each year though as we get closer to Christmas, we begin to see the commercialism begin to appear. Walmart puts up their Christmas decorations before we even get through Halloween. By time Black Friday and Cyber Monday are here at the end of November we are already hearing Christmas music on the radio and seeing Christmas movies on TV.
This past weekend we went to see "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" at the Buell Theatre. It was hands down one of the best shows we’ve seen there.
"The Grinch" is a timeless tale of a bitter person misunderstanding what Christmas is all about and it is summarized near the end when he has stolen all the toys and food from Whoville and believes he has decimated their Christmas. Yet when the sun comes up and the Whos begin stirring, he doesn’t hear weeping or crying but rather he hears singing and celebrating.
The narrator then says, “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more!”
We know what that “little bit more” is. That “little bit more” isn’t so little. For God so loved the world he sent us his only begotten Son, prophesied for many generations before the birth and retold for many generations since.
Jesus was born unto us. Our only requirement for a promise of eternal life: believe in him. However, believing in Jesus means living as Jesus instructs us. Living like Jesus every single day to the best of our ability. Our scripture reading today is reminding us that we must stop living the way the world expects of us and start living the way Jesus expects of us. Living simply for God and not things and loving God and each other with all our hearts, souls, and minds.
To be clear, giving and getting gifts isn’t bad. In fact, giving gifts is one of the best ways to show people that we appreciate each other and, in some cases, even show them how much we care about them. My point is simply that we must not get caught up in the commercialization of Christmas and lose why we are celebrating Christmas in the first place. We can absolutely do both and many of us are able to do that when we find the right balance.
I pray as we move closer to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day that you pause and give thanks for all the presents you have been given already: that God loves you, for Jesus, for the gift of today and yesterday, for your friends and family, for electricity and clean water, for functioning sewers, for being born in a country that is free and great like the United States, and the list goes on. We all have so many gifts that have been given to us, do we really need anymore?
May it be so,
Rev. Lou Ward
We are meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and 11:30 a.m. on Wednesdays in the Fellowship Hall.
Join us on the Second Sunday of every month for good food and good fellowship.
Military Appreciation Breakfast
Third Saturday of the month, 8 a.m.:
Veterans and Active Military and their Significant Others, join us for a hearty breakfast as we share our appreciation for your service.
United Methodist Women Monthly Meeting:
Third Thursday of every month: October 21, November 18, and December 16.
United Methodist Men's Monthly Breakfast:
*Postponed Until Further Notice
Tuesday: 8-12 am
Wednesday: 8-11 am
Thursday: 8-11 am
La Junta United Methodist Church
601 San Juan Ave
La Junta, CO 81050
Phone: (719) 384-7717
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