My son asked me the other day....as I was making a kitchen full of goodies for the holiday season.....and he was sampling.....and they were sooooo good...”Why can’t we have these wonderful treats any time we want them during the year?” And I struggled for a moment, because I had never really pondered that question...hmmmm....my thoughts wondered (and wandered). We just do.... that’s all....out of habit...out of custom... because of expectation of others? But then I explained...
” Well, if we had these treats all year they wouldn’t be special...and we would probably be unhealthy if we indulged in these rich foods on a regular basis...and the grocery bill would break us. But because Christmas comes but once a year, yes, we can splurge and enjoy/indulge in some treats to remind us that this is a special time of year.” He nodded in agreement, and picked up another scoop of salted, roasted, aromatic pecans as he smiled.
That simple encounter set me to thinking about all the extravagant things we do at Christmas. It is truly the most extravagant time of the year. We extravagantly decorate our living spaces and worship places. We string lights, we hang tinsel, we pull out ornaments that remind us of times and people we love who may or may not still be with us. We give (sometimes more than we have) to make sure Christmas is special for those we love and cherish. We reminisce about Christmases past. Sometimes we lament when we are reminded that some parts of Christmas will never be the same again.
We bake extravagantly. We sing extravagantly. We sometimes are overworked and under rested. The children get overexcited. It is an extravagant season in SO many ways.
As I thought about this extravagance of Christmas, it has actually struck a chord of joy in me for two reasons.
One reason is because of the simple fact that (unless you are the Grinch or Scrooge) giving just simply brings joy. Contemplating what another needs/wants/wishes for then being able to fulfill this just makes the heart grow bigger and warmer inside. Putting others first and putting self aside, though counter culture for most of the year seems, to work its way into the best and worst of us during the Christmas season!
But the most impactful thought that has been with me constantly this season is the extravagance of God’s love for us...all of us.... His gift to us was and is the most extravagant gift of all. The extravagance of Christmas is a direct correlation to the extravagant gift that was given to us by the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
The following excerpt and verses exemplify/explain the extravagant spirit of Christmas:
complete joy... same mind...the same love...united in spirit.... having one purpose... Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity... in humility.....treat one another as more important than yourself....concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others.....
Having the same attitude toward one another that Jesus had...though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but EMPTIED himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing human nature. He humbled himself...becoming obedient to the point of death...even death on a cross!
As a result, God exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow ....and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Now THERE is the EXTRAVAGANT love/gift poured out on us beyond what we can comprehend. We must remember the EXTRAVAGANT love that causes us to put others first and love them well during this season...
While we cannot be extravagant in all ways in all seasons due to the constraints of energy, time, and resources, it is my prayer that we can be extravagant in loving others well no matter what the season, remembering that we have been given the MOST extravagant gift that “keeps on giving” throughout our days and nights and across time and space, throughout eternity, and forevermore. AMEN