published Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Smith: Merry Christmas: Crowded out by our junk

By Robin Smith

At our home, affectionately called Camp Smith, we have a two-car garage. The trophies, souvenirs, and stuff of life have found a home along the walls of the garage. Joined by a few other outdoor items like a couple of kayaks and gear, these possessions have displaced my Subaru. So, I park it uncovered in the drive.

If I could animate these objects, I suppose the Subaru would have a bit of envy and possibly anger toward the other occasionally-used items that have taken priority and crowded the daily work-horse out into the elements. Knowing that garage was built and intended to house a vehicle, the Subaru is relegated to a second-place position.

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, I have to wonder if we haven't relegated the Christ in the Holy Day of the holiday to a diminished priority. Instead, we honor the commercialism, the materialism, and stack of gifts and goodies much higher than Jesus Christ.

After the feast of thankfulness on Thanksgiving Day, we witnessed the Glorious Ladies of Wrestling, and men too, having smack-downs to fill their steel-caged sleighs -- I mean shopping carts -- with retail deals for Christmas.

The National Retail Federation surveyed parents shopping for their kids noting 57 percent were planning to incur up to $700 debt during the holidays. Nothing says, "I celebrate the birth of Christ" like spending more than you have in your budget for more stuff.

The parallels of the retail binge that push out the true meaning of Christmas are vivid with the actual birth in the manger.

Mary and Joseph were being good citizens and reported to Bethlehem to partake in the census demanded by Caesar Augustus. In doing so, the mother-with-Child and her young husband, found "no room in the inn" due to the heavy travel demands.

A sympathetic inn owner offered a stable out back for the couple; the meager gesture fulfilled an ingredient that placed his manger on the line of time and history forever.

"A multitude of the heavenly host praising God" was heard by shepherds, "Glory to God in the highest. And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

But then, as now, the little Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, was not received by most as the King of Glory. In His 33-year life of speaking wisdom and performing miracles, He was mocked and ultimately crucified for being our Ultimate Gift.

Just recently, Billy Graham was featured in a moving tribute and offered a message that cannot be denied. "The cross is offensive because it confronts people. Even so, it's a confrontation that all of us must face." The pastor continued, "The cross is offensive because it directly confronts the evils which dominate so much of this world."

I suppose it's easier and more "tolerant" to celebrate a time of excess: spending and eating too much, while focusing on the self-satisfaction during the season.

Christmas marks God sending His Son as a sacrifice to die for the sins of the world. We really don't like the thought of a "loving, gracious, merciful God" also being one of righteousness and holiness that demands a penalty for sin ... our sin.

The reason for the season is simply the ultimate gift that takes away the sin of the world. But, just like the garage at Camp Smith, the personal clutter and the god of self tend to crowd out the true resident that belongs.

My hope and prayer is that we all accept the gift of Christmas and produce the fruits that bear witness to His enthronement in our lives.

Make room.

ABOUT THE WRITER Robin Smith served as chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party, 2007 to 2009. She is a partner at the SmithWaterhouse Strategies business development and strategic planning firm and serves on Tennessee's Economic Council on Women.

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
SaraB said...

I hope this wish and prayer is granted. What a different world it would be.

December 23, 2013 at 7:45 p.m.
Facts said...

A nice reminder of Lee Anderson's writings at Christmas that kept the focus on the real Reason for this season.

December 24, 2013 at 9:26 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

I long ago came to recognize the many mythological aspects of the Bible in general and to see Jesus and the "nativity" for the fairy tale that he/it is, but I still enjoy the spirit of giving and thinking of other people that Christmas embodies. Too bad that the teachings of their Jesus that most conservative Christians like to make the "reason for the season" go unheeded by them and they only want to wax sentimental about some fairy-tale nativity scene instead of actually putting into practice what he supposedly taught - you know, about selling your goods and giving the money to the poor and how hard it is for a rich person to get into heaven and how the meek will inherit the earth and how we should all be more compassionate and forgiving of each other. Instead they focus only on the "tough love" of God and how he will bring down his wrath upon those who don't believe in that particular fairy tale or who happen to feel inclined to express their love for their own gender, and instead of feeling compassion for the poor and the have-nots they simply lump them all into one category of "lazy moochers" in order to appease their conscience and not have to worry about feeling compassion or empathy. Furthermore they say that, while individual charity is good, it is not up to the government to dole out such charity and it is in fact better for the government to dole out tax breaks for the rich than to feed hungry children or provide health care for the uninsured or benefits for the unemployed.

But if the government is indeed a government "of, by, and for the people," as our representative government is supposed to be, then we in fact SHOULD have a government that is compassionate towards the poor and downtrodden. We SHOULD in fact have a government that serves ALL of its people, not just the corporate fat cats and the super-rich, as it does now.

Embrace your childish fairy tale if it makes you feel better but the reason for the season is not messiah worship of a baby born in a manger. It is simply giving, caring, sharing, and trying in whatever small way to bring about true PEACE on earth. One does not need religion or a messiah for that.

December 24, 2013 at 2:58 p.m.
Facts said...

It's rather sad to see firsthand the rejection of Christ and mockery of those of us who choose to believe. But, we are given a will to decide.

If I'm wrong, I've lived a life that's been good. If you're wrong in your mockery, it's tragic. But, still your choice.

December 25, 2013 at 7:06 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

Oh, get over yourself, Facts. I have not "mocked" anybody. Robin Smith wrote a piece in which she stated her opinion about what she thinks is supposed to be the "reason for the season" and I have simply responded it to it with my own OPINION. I could just as easily say that she is mocking me and everyone who does not believe in the fairy tale of a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Every time someone publicly states an opinion antithetical to that of you Christians you whine about how you're being "mocked" or "persecuted." Deal with it.

December 25, 2013 at 1:36 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

As for your remark about what might prove to be "tragic" for me and my soul if I'm wrong about my "choice"... However much faith you have that you are right in your choice, I guarantee you that I am every bit as strong, if not more so, in my faith that I am right in mine. In the end we all must have an element of faith in what we believe, because life and death still hold many more unanswered and unanswerable questions than certainties. But my faith is reinforced by sound logic, science, and common sense. Your belief, on the other hand, that there is a heaven after death that is reserved only for good obedient Christian souls and an eternal hell for non-believers, is one that flies in the face of reason. Every thing that you believe, regarding your Christian God and your Christian faith, is founded on a book of preposterous ancient myths and blatant contradictions and nonsense. Practically everything in it defies logic, the reality of history, and the findings of science. You have to dumb yourself down to the mentality of a 5-yr.-old to believe it. It is good to have the innocence and the curiosity of a child, but it is never a good thing to adopt the mentality of a child for the sole purpose of accommodating a fantastical belief that flies in the face of common sense and reason.

"Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of REASON, than that of BLINDFOLDED FEAR." - Thomas Jefferson

December 25, 2013 at 1:58 p.m.
soakya said...

rickyroo, the government has no responsibility helping the poor, you do Rickyroo, let me say it again ricky, YOU DO. progressives love to say the government has the responsibility to help the poor because this shifts the responsibility from them. and before you try to say I believe they should be helping the fat cats and the corporate fat cats I'll say it again, the government has no responsibility to help them either. so get off your can and start helping the poor ricky.

December 26, 2013 at 1 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

FYI, soakya, I do help those in need, within my means, in whatever ways I can. I have always been very charitable towards those in need. You don't even know me, yet you expose yourself as the dumb-ass you are by making such a broad, unfounded assumption. Furthermore, your constant knee-jerk denunciation of government and how it is incompetent at best and downright evil at worst is tiresome and silly. Ever since there have been people banding together to form societies there has been government and taxation. Government in some form has always been with us and it always will be. It is not a matter of shrinking it down to almost nothing or making it go away, it is a matter utilizing government in a way that it serves the needs of the most number of people fairly and equitably in our society. Grow up. Get off your one-trick pony and try one of the other carnival rides, little buckaroo. It's a great big world out there and you might learn something if you will just open that tightly sealed adolescent mind of yours.

December 26, 2013 at 4:51 p.m.
soakya said...

I bet you are as charitable as the retired marine was to his sister while demanding others to do more? one check with stipulations to use it for her daughter.

December 26, 2013 at 4:59 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Your responses are predictable and boring. Buh-bye.

December 26, 2013 at 5:13 p.m.
soakya said...

truth hurts when it is exposed.

December 26, 2013 at 5:17 p.m.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »


Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.