Making Sense of Christmas
Christmas is over, the presents have been unwrapped. Did you get everything you wanted or are you going to go be making returns? Well Buyers beware! And shoppers beware of the increasingly complicated and restrictive return policies that have been set into place for the great after Christmas exchange! It is true. You can read about it on “consumeraffairs.com”
There is a “blacklist” of “serial returners” that will be checked, by some (not all) retailers, before accepting merchandise for a refund.
Stores will swipe the shopper’s driver’s license each time a return is being made, and if the store-set return limit is exceeded, the customer is denied a return.
And get this; most stores’ posted policies do not warn shoppers of a cap on frequent returns. Consumer rights vary from state to state with respect to product returns.
The article states … “Shoppers may be in for some nasty surprises after Christmas …”
I have news for the store managers. If you think a blacklist is nasty wait until you have a very long line of well heated and overheated shoppers who (1) didn’t get what they wanted for Christmas, or (2) don’t want what they got for Christmas … and what do they want … to return it. Tell them, “Sorry you have exceeded your limit of returns. You’ll have to keep it.”
James N. Watkins in his article, “Yes, Virginia, there really is life after Christmas” reports of how a crowd of probably quite normal people who, in the passion of the moment, can turn into a murderous mob storming the exchange and complaint windows.
I might add … they storm the gates of “no-returns” screaming, “I want to see the manager!”
It’s an all too familiar scene and it doesn’t have to be Christmas for people to get upset, and think they are being taken advantage of.
What do we do when things and stuff, issues of life great and small don’t go our way?
What will you do when the Christmas present(s) you thought you were getting and surely deserve (after all you’ve been not naughty, but nice and checked yourself twice) aren’t there? Cry foul? Cry out, “I want to see the manager!”
Go back a couple thousand years and put yourself in Joseph’s shoes. Can you imagine what He must have felt like when arriving in Bethlehem, after a long journey and seeing the neon “NO VANCANCY” sign flashing in the window of the inn where he planned to stay?
“Joseph’s the name, lineage of David and I have a reservation for a room. What do you mean you gave my room to someone else? Hey, I’m only a couple hours late, and my wife and I need that room. You see she’s pregnant, and I don’t think she is feeling too good. Yes, I heard you; you are full up, no room? But … yes, I can read the sign. But I made a reser ... what the stable? That’s the best you have to offer me, Joseph, the lineage of David? Well, okay, we’ll take it. Hey honey, got our room!”
Luke 2:6-7 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Would you have stayed in a crummy dirty animal infested stable? Most likely after viewing the stable and contents we might storm the front desk of the inn insisting, ‘I want to see the manager of the manger!”
And that’s good, because the Manager of the Manger wants you to see Him. He really wants you to see Him for who He is, rather than some low-life inn keeper turning M&J away (that’s Mary & Joseph), as well as seeing Him as someone who is out to do you “inn”, or someone who doesn’t care about you, or listens to you.
So, yes! Let’s storm the “Christmas Exchange & Complaint Window” and say, “I want to see the Manager of the Manger!”
The truth is we all have a pretty “skewed” view of life and a “fantasy” filled mind of how we think it ought to be … at least for us.
We even think less of God, thinking it’s His fault we are not getting what we want for Christmas, as well as life.
You would think that if God is ruling and making things happen in this world, like causing a census to be taken so M&J would be in Bethlehem for the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ, He would have at least made reservations for them at the inn. Why could God not have done something better and more fitting than a stable and a manger?
“Good God almighty!” … we profess. And that He is! He is a good and almighty God managing the world with planned and purposeful intent.
“Sometimes we have to step away from Christmas in order to really see it.” – Woodrow Kroll, God’s Glory in a Bethlehem Baby, pg.4
We have step back from the familiar texts that deal with census’ … stables … angels … shepherds … magi … to see what God was doing in the manger.
Could God have provided a room of comfort and delight at the Ritz-Carleton? Yes, He could have.
- Jesus could have been born into a wealthy family.
- Jesus could have turned the stone into bread.
- Jesus could have called the angels of heaven to help Him.
- Jesus could have come down off the cross and save Himself
“The question is not what God could do but what He willed to do.” – John Piper
Ephesians 1:9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,
God, as Manager, was willing His will in the manger. I see His will (man has my viewed changed of late on the subject of God’s will) as two fold in the manger and beyond.
- The manger was for God’s Glory
- The manger was for Man’s Good
This was the message of the angels … Glory to God in the highest! (Lk 2:14) The emphasis is “to God” not to us.
§ “in the highest” … can speak to position and place.
God has the highest position of glory and is in the realm of His place (heaven) of glory.
And here is the crazy thing about it … God wants to share it with frail, feeble and fumbling creatures like you and me. He wants us to see it and show it.
- Seraphim cried … "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." (Is 6:3 NIV)
- John says … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father (Jn 1:14)
- Paul says … do all to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31)
The glory of Christmas is not about us, it is about God and what He was willing to do for us.
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Man has … exchanged the glory of the immortal God (Rom 1:23) … like an unwanted Christmas gift in an attempt to make it all about himself, not realizing that the Manager of the manger was working and willing for the purposeful intent of saving sinful man.
Man’s Good …
The manger was for man’s good. The angels two-fold message was … Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" (Lk 2:14b)
Why the manger? It was the place where God could empty His pockets (Himself) and come live and die, so that He might save us from our sin.
Paul makes note of this in Philippians … a passage referred to as the “kenosis” of God … that is the gloriously emptying to become man.
Philippians 2:6-13 NLT Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. 7 He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. 8 And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on a cross. 9 Because of this, God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name that is above every other name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 12 Dearest friends, you were always so careful to follow my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away you must be even more careful to put into action God’s saving work in your lives, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him.
We need to understand that God in Christ did not cease or diminish His glory as the only begotten. He was fully God who became fully man in order to bring about the good (good news … salvation) for man.
Christmas moves in and onto the truth that sinful man, falling short of God’s glory, needs to receive the Christmas gift of the Savior.
Why the manger? Think about it. It is God’s humble and glorious way of saying, “It’s not in man’s ability, power, or his prestige to do anything about his own sin filled life to which he most often complains and wants to see the manager when things aren’t going as expected.”
Though the manger was not the expected, it is however the unexpected glory of God beginning the greatest good for man on earth.
Luke 2:11 "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
As Piper says, “We get the joy. He gets the glory.”
So, I hope when you see a manger this Christmas season and every Christmas season after, be aware and say, “I want to see the Manager of the Manger!” Because He really does want you to see Him in Christmas!
‒ Pastor Pam