Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse… Ahhh, peace and quiet. So nice…
When you read this, Christmas will be less than a month away and the hustle and bustle will be going on, things to do and things to buy and people to see. As I write this, Thanksgiving is not even here yet but Christmas lights are already up and Christmas decorations have been for sale in the store since July… well, maybe not THAT early!
Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas, but I pray that Christmas this year will be more relaxed for everyone. And a reminder, Christmas is not about getting presents but it IS about giving and kindness and love.
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” The Hobbit, Chapter 18
The Bible repeatedly urges us to keep material possessions in proper perspective, simply because we can’t take them with us when we leave this life. As the apostle Paul wrote, “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out” (1 Timothy 6:7). The quote from Thorin says it is better to value food and cheer and song above hoarded gold. Gold, in itself, if shared generously, can be a very good thing. Thorin hadn’t been wrong to attempt to recover the gold that rightfully belonged to him, either. His fault had been in hoarding it and in refusing to share it with the people of Laketown. They were starving, despairing, and in need of cheer – and even a modest donation on Thorin’s part would have helped provide that food and cheer.
Jesus told a parable about a rich man whose fields had yielded bumper crops – so much so that his existing granaries couldn’t contain his overflowing harvest. He could have shared his surplus freely with the poor or sold it to them at a compassionate rate, but instead he decided to build greater barns, hoard every bit of his wealth, and retire in luxury. But God told him he was going to die that very night, so he wouldn’t benefit one iota from his hoarded riches. Jesus summed up this lesson: “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:19-21).
How do we become “rich toward God?” By doing good and sharing with others. The rich fool in Jesus’ parable had the same problem as Thorin. It wasn’t wrong for him to want to “eat, drink and be merry,” but he wanted it all, and that was wrong. He turned his eyes away from those around him who were desperate and needed “food and cheer and song” even more than he did.
Even when we’re struggling to make ends meet, we can still enjoy some of the greatest riches this world has to offer. We build strong, happy bonds that last a lifetime when we take time out of our busy schedules to come together for a gathering of family or friends. Moments like those are worth far more than money. The food may be good for our bodies, but the cheer is even better for our souls.
May your Christmas be filled with much cheer!
Merry Christmas! Pastor Bud and Lori