Another Black Friday has come and gone in these United States. And I think it’s time to rename one of the busiest shopping days of the year. How about “Black-Eye Friday”?

Just look at the headlines, for example, as seen on the Drudge Report (11/24/12):
• “Gang fight” at Black Friday sale…
• Man Punched in Face Pulls Gun On Line-Cutting Shopper…
• Shots fired outside WALMART…
• Shoppers smash through door at URBAN OUTFITTERS…
• Customers run over in parking lot…
• Woman busted after throwing merchandise…
• Thousands storm VICTORIA’S SECRET…
• VIDEO: Insane battle over phones…
• Mayhem at Nebraska mall where 9 murdered in 2007…
• Shoplifter tries to mace security guards…
• Men Steal Boy’s Shopping Bag Outside BED, BATH & BEYOND…
• Heckler calls them zombies…
• Manhattan cop busted for shoplifting…
• Shopper Robbed At Gunpoint Outside BEST BUY…

Later there were reports of “mall brawl” over a pair of shoes. Then there was the alleged shopper who died after being subdued by the employees of a popular retailer. And on it goes.

The irony of all this is that Christmas is theoretically all about the birth of Jesus. The first Christmas gift was the gift of God’s Son. This is ultimately the only Christmas gift that counts.

This is the gift that keeps on giving because when we get to love Jesus, we want to give to others. The late Mother Teresa worked for decades helping the poorest of the poor in India. She said: “Today God has sent us into the world as he sent Jesus, to show God’s love to the world. And we must sacrifice to show that love, just as Jesus made the greatest sacrifice of all.”

The next Christmas gifts, and the tradition of getting Christmas gifts for others, gets back to the Wise Men (Magi, from which we get the word magic) from the East (Persia/Iraq), who came from afar to worship the Christ child, bearing Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.

And, in one sense, Christians have been giving gifts ever since. Even many non-believers have joined in the festivities, without really understanding the essential message.

Even the mythical character of Santa Claus ultimately points back to Christ. Although he often regrettably upstages Christ at Christmastime, St. Nick unquestionably arose within the Christian tradition; and the legend is symbolic of the spirit of giving that marks the coming of Christ.

According to The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, we know very little about the real St. Nicholas (from whose name we get Santa Claus). He lived in Myra in the fourth century and was reported to have given gifts to some children on his feast day, December 6—No Jesus, no Santa Claus.

One minister from Denver feels called to try and get more people within the Body of Christ to practice more generosity. Rev. Brian Kluth, who has three children, decided to put generosity into practice in his own family a few years ago.

As Christmas approached, and they bought plenty of gifts for themselves, he asked his children, “Whose birthday is it anyway?”

He said to them, “Well, who should get the biggest presents, and they said ‘Jesus, but He’s not here.’ And I said, the bible says, ‘When we [give] to the least of these, we’ve done it unto Him.’”

So, in addition to Christmas gifts for his children, he gave each of them an envelope with $1,000 each, for them to give to whatever charity they desired. They gave some of the money to orphanages, and they also bought some things for a nearby family (with children), whose mother was dying of cancer.

It was their most meaningful Christmas, and it underscored what Jesus said, when He noted, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

There’s plenty of gifts to go around, and what a joy to participate in such a festive holiday by remembering the less fortunate as well.

In the hustle and bustle of getting our Christmas shopping done, I hope we don’t forget what the holiday (the holy-day) is really about.

 

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Categories: 2012 Columns

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