Recently I wrote a sermon for stewardship Sunday and used several commercials as illustrations of my points in the message. All of those commercials were selling something as potential Christmas presents, and most of those items were motor vehicles – cars, pickup trucks and SUVs. Now I don’t know everyone’s situation, but I have to say that I’ve never received a car for Christmas, at least not one I could sit in and drive. I did get a remote control Hum-vee a number of years back, but that’s long gone now. So the idea of giving or receiving a car or a truck for Christmas is completely foreign to me, and I’m not alone. According to a 2010 article from cars.com, “It may surprise you, but an estimated 14,994 new cars are expected to be given as gifts this season. The number looks big, but out of a projected 980,000 new vehicles expected to be sold in December, these pricey presents make up only about 1.5% of all car sales.” https://www.cars.com/articles/2010/12/do-people-really-give-cars-as-gifts/
So while not a majority of people, there certainly are some who do this. In an era of such great need, when those of us in the United States regardless of our income, are all part of the richest 1% globally, this just seems too extravagant. When is enough, enough? I’m certainly no fan of the idea of a collectivist state or that everyone’s income should be equal, but when we can give each other five and six figure vehicles as gifts for Christmas, maybe we ought to think more about sharing the wealth. I wonder how Jesus would feel about us celebrating his birthday by giving each other extravagant gifts. I’m reminded every Christmas season of a program that was started by Rev. Mike Slaughter of the Ginghamsburg Church (UMC) of Ohio. Each year they remind their congregation that Christmas is not YOUR birthday. In fact, they go on to challenge the congregation to give an equal amount of money to the church for mission as they will spend on Christmas gifts for friends and family. They then, out of great faith, give their entire Christmas Eve offering to mission projects. This is a quote from their church website, “Since 2004, the Ginghamsburg Church family has remembered that ‘Christmas is not your birthday’ and given generously to the annual Christmas Miracle Offering. More than $9.4 million has been invested toward impacting the world locally to globally. The offering has expanded local services from our non-profit partners, built schools and safe water yards in Darfur and South Sudan, contributed $1 million toward ending malaria, cared for refugee needs in the Middle East, rebuilt homes and lives in flood-stricken Louisiana, opened Mosaic Church in Beavercreek and more.”
Folks, isn’t that a whole lot more of what Christmas ought to be about? Wouldn’t Jesus want us to help our neighbors in need more than giving each other cars in celebration of his birthday? Maybe there’s some way we could remember this Christmas that it’s not our birthday either, maybe…
Whatever you do this Christmas, however you celebrate Jesus’ birth, I wish you all a blessed and full Christmas and a bright New Year.