IVP - Online Pulpit - A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Mall

October 1, 2006

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Mall

I love to look at all the house and yard decorations during Advent. (My kids say that by my comments you would think I am the Christmas-decoration sheriff.) Of course, we all have our preferences when it comes to Christmas displays. Some people decorate with lights all of one color; others like to mix and match. Some folks are minimalists—one display lighted simply—others have their yards filled with Christmas symbols of every shape and color. We’ve all seen houses with Santa and his reindeer on the rooftop and a manger scene down below. One of our neighbors has a little bit of everything: candy canes lining the sidewalk; toy soldiers guarding the house; Santa, the elves and reindeer bearing gifts; some carolers singing joyfully; and Mary, Joseph and the wise men worshiping the Christ child—all together in the front lawn! My family calls this Christmas Rococo.

One night on the way to the mall, I saw a display that really caught my attention. The house was lighted quite simply. At one corner was a lone manger. No Mary and Joseph to be found. No cattle lowing, no wise men bearing gifts, no angels hovering, no shepherds adoring. Only one other figure stood by the manger—Santa Claus! It immediately caught my eye. Santa was intently peering at the baby lying in the manger. Santa meets Jesus!

What was the purpose of this stunning display? Unfortunately, I did not stop to ask. Perhaps the folks in the house hadn’t finished decorating yet; but this curious display definitely made me wonder. Was Santa Claus thinking, What in the world is this kid doing on my turf? Was he pondering the meaning and significance of this helpless child? Or was Santa rightfully paying homage to the Christ, the real reason for the season?

These questions represent very different views of Christmas. And as we peer into the manger, these questions assail each of us. Who is Jesus? What place does he have in our life? Why is Jesus such a small part of typical Christmas celebrations? Does our gift giving, feasting and decorating take so much of our time and attention that Jesus is but another Christmas bauble, or a necessary but momentary interruption? Or does the baby in the manger accentuate the truth that nothing else really matters? God is with us!

We need to clearly communicate to our children, our neighbors, our friends and our congregations that the cute baby in the manger is the King of kings and Lord of lords. Do our lives display the fact that God so loved the world that he sent his only Son, this baby in the manger, that we might not perish but have everlasting life? What do our “decorations” say to others when they “drive by” our lives?

A funny thing happened on the way to the mall. I had to ponder once again the place Jesus has in my life. As you view all the decorations this Advent season, think about it. Stop, like Santa, to peer into the manger. Who is this Jesus, and what place does he have in your life?

Posted by Candie Blankman at October 1, 2006 8:58 AM Bookmark and Share

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