When I was a little boy, Papa and Mama had a way of teaching me things when I didn't even know that school was in session. One of those lessons concerned Christmas and the Hewitt boys. The Hewitt boys were like stair-steps, about a year apart in age, about 6, 7, and 8 years old. They were being reared by their overworked mother who had at least two jobs. The boys were often unsupervised and definitely undisciplined. Papa insisted that we transport the boys to church on Sunday mornings. Then on the Sunday after Christmas, they were always invited to our house for Sunday lunch. My parents had presents prepared for them, but they also played with my Christmas presents, and usually broke one or two of them. The Hewitt boys were destructive. For the life of me, I couldn't see why my parents let those young savages invade our peaceful home. Now I know that there were several reasons. Part of their purpose was to teach me the real meaning of Christmas.
You know the primary problem we Christians face this month. It is so easy to get caught up in a month-long frenzy of buying, rushing, decorating, and partying. How else do you explain the reports of riots in Connecticut and California as people fight to claim one of Sony's latest video game players, PlayStation 3?
Each day the Commercial Appeal is loaded with colorful advertisements of all the latest toys, clothing styles, sports items, and technical gadgets. Children and adults get caught up in this craving for things, and we want them now!
A little boy named Ryan was standing beside his father in the checkout line at a department store. Ryan asked if he could have a toy that was on display. His father said, "Christmas is a month away. You'll have to ask Santa." Ryan replied, "I know a quicker way. I'll ask Grandma." Ryan has already bought into the instant gratification of our culture.
In preparation for the birthday of Him who had no place to lay his head, we are urged to buy a $10,000 necklace for the wife or a $75,000 automobile.
And when the Christmas season ends, how do we usually feel? Often we have the post-Christmas blues and are utterly worn out. We take down the tree, send the decorations back to the attic, and contemplate those bills that we must face in January. In moments of special introspection, we might ask, "Is this the kind of celebration that pleases and glorifies the Lord Jesus?"
There is one character in the original Christmas event with whom we can easily identify — the Bethlehem innkeeper. His inn is mentioned in the Christmas story but we are not told the proprietor's name. There is just this one phrase in Luke 2:7 — "because there was no room for them in the inn."