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Mitra: Reshaping goodwill gushes into Christmas rushes
Holiday sentiment is invading our culture by October each year.
Fall foliage, weather changes and mail-order catalogues tell us Christmas is around the bend.
Turkeys are getting fatter, retailers are putting out stock and children are practising Jingle Bells for school concerts.
Christmas nostalgia is like a coat hanger without a hook.
You’ve probably used one of these pointed, wiry makeshift devices.
It can’t be hung anymore, but it can open a car lock, scratch a casted arm and even enhance TV reception.
Like a hanger without a hook, Christmas has been undone.
Christmas is well on its way to manipulated and distorted exploitation.
Pragmatism undoes the hook from the hanger so it can be used for other purposes.
Though not what it was supposed to be, this kind of Christmas is quite useful.
• Unlocking goodwill: Christmas rushes produce goodwill gushes.
A seasonal spurt of good works marks the naive who hope to curry God’s favour with holiday spirituality and generosity.
Unfortunately, God is not more or less favourable to anyone just because it is Christmastime.
Unlocking God’s goodwill is a year-round need.
Have you noticed the sophisticated security systems on late-model cars?
Coat-hanger contraptions are now obsolete as a means of entry.
These days, we need a locksmith to get in.
So it is with unlocking God’s will.
We can’t force ourselves into God’s grace by ingenuity. The relational block between man and God can’t be bridged with merit-mongering Christmas techniques.
When locked out of God’s presence, we can’t manoeuvre our way in by doing good.
We’ve got to call on the locksmith.
Jesus claims locksmith prerogatives as the One who holds the key to our entry into God’s royal presence, to our mastery over hell and death and to our knowledge of God.
He can unlock God’s grace in your life. Call on the Locksmith this Christmas.
• Scratching an itch: In North America, no festival generates public enthusiasm like Christmas.
An itch wanting to be scratched goes on for several months.
The itch to acquire more culminates with a weeklong holiday.
Humanity’s acquisitive itch is only a symptom of a much deeper affection.
Scratching the itch with a culturally straight-ended hanger provides only temporary relief.
But, Jesus did not come merely to treat our symptoms.
He came to address the cause of the broken arm, the constraints of sin on human self-identification and the error that life consists in accumulation.
When Christ is put back in Christmas, it is the broken arm, not the hanger, that is straightened out.
• Clarifying reception: Years ago, I bought an old walnut-veneer console TV.
The reception was not clear, so I untwisted a coat hanger to use as a stopgap antenna.
The picture was still shoddy.
Later, I found out that the problem was internal.
After a technician replaced the bad tube with a good one, he gave me back the deformed hanger and said: “This is no longer necessary. You can use it for decoration, but you won’t need it for reception!”
A Christmas without Christ garbles the signal.
We may enjoy the ambience, the sparkle and the feelings that are really there.
But, the real message should not be distorted.
The divine repairman has identified the problem as human sin.
When invited in, He throws out all the faulty parts and installs a new system.
The hopeless, hookless hanger is discarded.
We really don’t need the extras to make Christmas into Christmas.
When the Saviour-repairman creates a new inside, we receive the capacity for clear spiritual reception.
Then, we no longer need the holiday season to celebrate Christmas in spirit and truth.
• Christmas reshaped: Once, I used my shirt hanger as a retrieval device.
Then I reshaped the hanger, putting the hook back into it and hung a shirt on it.
So, too, can Christmas be recovered.
It has been distorted for immediate pragmatic use.
The original purpose of Christmas was to unlock God’s goodwill toward us, bring God’s life into us and introduce God’s salvation to us.
A Christ-redeemed, Christ-reshaped, Christ-remade Christmas bends the hanger back to its original purpose.
Call on Him to reshape Christmas 2012 into what it was meant to be.