Oh, what a terrible sin these people have committed! They made for themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin!
Exodus 32:31-32 (CEB)
No season of the year has the potential for greater good than Christmas. The good news of the birth of Messiah would be good enough. But the way it happens and the characters surrounding the Baby are so unexpected as to boggle the mind. A carpenter and his fiancée who turns up pregnant before the wedding. A forced trip to a faraway town to register with the occupying government. No room at the inn and a birth in a stable. An animals' feeding trough as the Baby's first bed. His first visitors a group of shepherds who'd been asleep in the fields when they were visited by angels. There's even more, of course, but just getting to the day of Christ's birth is enough for a lifetime of tangible lessons in trust and humility. 

But despite all this, Christmas and the days and weeks (now, alas, turned into months) leading up to it have been turned into an orgy of consumerism and over-indulgence. I'm told this year might be a bit different. Because of the ongoing pandemic, there are some problems with the global supply chain. Some goods aren't as readily available as we want them to be and might not be available for holiday parties and Christmas gift-giving. If so, we should be grateful. But I doubt that the current situation will cool the fever of materialism that infects us each December.

For Christians, the Babe in the Manger should be sufficient. Why wonder at tinsel and packages when God is born in a barn to an unwed mother? Enough to meditate on the stories I find in Luke 2 and Matthew 1 for a month. Am I really adding anything to my faith by shopping and partying? Instead, may I recommit myself to seeking God in unexpected places, by seeing God's Image in the faces of children, and in ministering to the poor and lonely and oppressed. Thus may my habits of December become a way of life.

Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But exhort one another every day.
 Hebrews 3:12-13
Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
Almighty God, Light of the World, you caused light to shine out of darkness in the advent of Jesus your Christ, and you have opened to me the ways I am to prepare. I confess my unwillingness to see the light and to walk in your ways. I have not always opened my eyes to the needs of others, and my feet have wandered from the paths of justice and peace. I ask that the Spirit of Christ be born anew within me, that my heart may be stirred to celebrate Christmas with acts of compassion and service. 
 Chalice Worship (alt.)
After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.

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