I have a 5-year old son. Needless to say, he's finally starting to wonder a little more about this Santa person. He knows that Santa isn't real, but we still read books about Santa, and talk about the idea of Santa, and a general "Christmas spirit". We also talk a lot about the reason for the Season.
Of course, he's also very interested in receiving gifts, especially toys, and even video games. As a side note, it's a bit hard to believe that my 5 year old can beat certain levels of Mario Kart, I'm not sure I could even do that.
So, what's the big deal about Santa and wanting gifts? Isn't that part of what Christmas is all about?
Let's talk about the real reason behind the gifts that Christ was given by the Wise Men (which by the way was not at his birth, but probably 2-4 years after he was born).
We know that Jesus received, at a minimum, gold, frankincense, and myrrh from the wise men. Why these three? I believe there was a very practical reason, as well as a very symbolic reason. These three items were typically given to kings, so the wise men would have brought them for that reason. But, why would God want them to be given to a baby born in a manger, to a poor young carpenter and his teenage bride?
Well, logistically speaking, it was not an easy or financially safe journey to travel from your "hometown" in Israel to Egypt. A carpenter may have been a useful trade, but Egypt is mostly a desert, and the majority of people lived in tents. There were no credit cards, or Visa and MasterCard. How did Joseph and Mary finance the journey to Egypt to escape certain death? My bet is that they used at least some of the very valuable gifts they were given.
We tend to think of these as silly gifts, trivial things, when in actuality, God specifically provided an extravagant blessing, with a very specific purpose, keeping His Son safe from harm, until the time was right.
So, what is the Christmas Spirit? Is it about what we've been given, or about what we do with what we've been given?
So, on this "Black Friday", if you choose to venture out to brave the crowds and complete some Christmas shopping, remember the true reason for the season, and the true black Friday that came years after Christ's birth. The black Friday when the sky went dark at noon, and the curtain was torn in two, and the earth shook. The "Christmas" gifts that were given in celebration of a King, and a God were likely used in His escape, but the true gift was given in a much more solemn and somber day.