Christmas in hard times
Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 8:56 pm
America is facing some unique economic challenges right now. Some areas of the country have been hit particularly hard. The media pundits seem almost eager to daily paint our future in shades of depressing gray. And they may be right. Our country could be preparing for some lean times. One man on a recent television interview said, “Some American families may not even have a Christmas this year.” But he was wrong. This man clearly misunderstood the term “Christmas.”
What does it take for your family to have “a Christmas” this year? $1000? $500? No. Ask the older citizens of our community how much their parents spent on Christmas during their growing up years. Those who lived through the Great Depression remember getting an orange, an apple and some hard candy for Christmas. There might have been a turkey or some venison for a big dinner. A tree cut in the woods would have been decorated with paper or gumballs or pinecones. A traditional Christmas pageant would have been held in the local church. If excessive amounts of money were required to have “a Christmas,” whole generations of Americans would have sadly lived without one. But they didn’t.
More than 2,000 years ago, a baby was born in Bethlehem and placed in a manger. But He wasn’t just a baby. Isaiah had foretold that a child would be born who would save His people from their sins. God in the flesh. Redeemer. Savior. King. Jesus grew up as a carpenter’s son. He looked like an average Jewish boy. He labored among the people making tables and chairs for those He knew desperately needed forgiveness. His earthly life was marked by a profound love for the people no one else loved. He served the people no one else would touch. He ate with the ones who were considered “unclean.” Everything about his life and ministry threw a wrench in the religious and political system of the day. That’s putting it mildly. At 33, He died on a cross. Three days later He rose from the dead. All of history was forever changed because God sent a Savior.
This Christmas some people in our area could lose their jobs. The money for technology or trips or gifts for the children could disappear overnight. Some Americans have already lost their homes and transferred into smaller dwellings. It could happen to my family. It could happen to yours. But even if our family moved into the tiniest one-bedroom apartment, we would still have “a Christmas.” If we ate beans and rice every meal, we would have “a Christmas.” If our kids got nothing on Dec. 25 except peppermint candy and a big hug, we would still celebrate the Savior. We’ve been redeemed. The sting of sin and death has been removed by God’s grace through the gift of a Savior. Our eternal home has been prepared by the One who loves us most. And all four of us have received the gift with great joy. Thankfully, it doesn’t take money to have “a Christmas.” It takes Christ.
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. Mrs. Smartt is the wife of Philip Smartt, the University of Tennessee at Martin parks and recreation and forestry professor, and is mother to two boys, Stephen and Jonathan. She is a freelance writer and speaker. Her book “The Smartt View: Life, Love, and Cluttered Closets” is available at The Messenger, The University of Tennessee at Martin bookstore or by mail for $10, plus $2 shipping. Send checks to Lisa Smartt, 300 Parrott Road, Dresden TN 38225. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 12.17.08