Saturday, December 16, 2006


How does that song go?

Dashing through the malls
With a maxed out credit card
Oe'er the sales we go
Breathing really hard

Or something like that. On this, the next-to-last Saturday before Christmas, my wife and I decided to do some last minute Christmas shopping. Actually, before you think this was a joint decision based on careful discussion, let me set the record straight. I like to go to the mall in December. I don't like to go the last couple of days before Christmas, but before then it's not too bad. I love the decorations, the music, the energy, and the excitment. My wife doesn't quite share my fascination with the mall in December, but she comes with me and ends up enjoying herself after all.

So why do I have this near compulsion to brave the traffic and the crowds during this season of dollars off sales and holiday savings galore? Well, it goes back to my birthdays growing up. I was a new year's eve baby, but I rarely had a full-blown birthday party. My parents would do their best to get me a cake and a present or two, but I never had the classic birthday bash (I was amazed to discover later that we were actually poor--all those years growing up, I had no idea!). Well, anyway, when people would ask me later if I had a birthday party, I would grin and say that a lot of folks had parties...there were parties all over the country on my birthday!

Of course, none of the revelers around the nation on New Year's Eve knew me. They didn't know I had been born and that I was alive. They were celebrating, but they didn't know who or what they were celebrating.

I'm joking, of course, but consider this: stores, malls, shopping centers, and retail establishments pull out the decorations, the lights, the pageantry, the celebratory frills, and the fun every year. It's as if they are in full scale party mode. Folks around the neighborhood decorate their homes in festive colors and twinkling lights, as if they were throwing a big birthday party. The only problem is, they don't know Whose party it is! They don't know Who they are celebrating.

The apostle Paul visited a pagan culture and commented on all their idols, then used their statue to the "Unknown God" as an opportunity to tell them about the one true God. In that spirit, I just want to stand on the balcony of the mall and shout (like the little girl in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever) "HEY, UNTO YOU A CHILD IS BORN!!!"

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