At our home, affectionately called Camp Smith, we have a two-car garage. The trophies, souvenirs, and stuff of life have found a home along the walls of the garage. Joined by a few other outdoor items like a couple of kayaks and gear, these possessions have displaced my Subaru. So, I park it uncovered in the drive.
If I could animate these objects, I suppose the Subaru would have a bit of envy and possibly anger toward the other occasionally-used items that have taken priority and crowded the daily work-horse out into the elements. Knowing that garage was built and intended to house a vehicle, the Subaru is relegated to a second-place position.
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, I have to wonder if we haven't relegated the Christ in the Holy Day of the holiday to a diminished priority. Instead, we honor the commercialism, the materialism, and stack of gifts and goodies much higher than Jesus Christ.
After the feast of thankfulness on Thanksgiving Day, we witnessed the Glorious Ladies of Wrestling, and men too, having smack-downs to fill their steel-caged sleighs -- I mean shopping carts -- with retail deals for Christmas.
The National Retail Federation surveyed parents shopping for their kids noting 57 percent were planning to incur up to $700 debt during the holidays. Nothing says, "I celebrate the birth of Christ" like spending more than you have in your budget for more stuff.
The parallels of the retail binge that push out the true meaning of Christmas are vivid with the actual birth in the manger.
Mary and Joseph were being good citizens and reported to Bethlehem to partake in the census demanded by Caesar Augustus. In doing so, the mother-with-Child and her young husband, found "no room in the inn" due to the heavy travel demands.
A sympathetic inn owner offered a stable out back for the couple; the meager gesture fulfilled an ingredient that placed his manger on the line of time and history forever.
"A multitude of the heavenly host praising God" was heard by shepherds, "Glory to God in the highest. And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
But then, as now, the little Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, was not received by most as the King of Glory. In His 33-year life of speaking wisdom and performing miracles, He was mocked and ultimately crucified for being our Ultimate Gift.
Just recently, Billy Graham was featured in a moving tribute and offered a message that cannot be denied. "The cross is offensive because it confronts people. Even so, it's a confrontation that all of us must face." The pastor continued, "The cross is offensive because it directly confronts the evils which dominate so much of this world."
I suppose it's easier and more "tolerant" to celebrate a time of excess: spending and eating too much, while focusing on the self-satisfaction during the season.
Christmas marks God sending His Son as a sacrifice to die for the sins of the world. We really don't like the thought of a "loving, gracious, merciful God" also being one of righteousness and holiness that demands a penalty for sin ... our sin.
The reason for the season is simply the ultimate gift that takes away the sin of the world. But, just like the garage at Camp Smith, the personal clutter and the god of self tend to crowd out the true resident that belongs.
My hope and prayer is that we all accept the gift of Christmas and produce the fruits that bear witness to His enthronement in our lives.
ABOUT THE WRITER Robin Smith served as chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party, 2007 to 2009. She is a partner at the SmithWaterhouse Strategies business development and strategic planning firm and serves on Tennessee's Economic Council on Women.