But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14
By now many of us have been Christmas shopping.
Most of us are pretty much alike in the things we need to make that annual venture into the mobs of madness, which surround the season of gift giving. We get our car keys, our lists, our checkbooks and credit cards. I am willing to say not a single one of our Daily Devotion readers remembered to bring -- and were planning on using -- their cans of tear gas.
Even so, that is exactly what a woman did at a Los Angeles Wal-Mart. Afraid she would not capture her choice presents, she decided to gas the folks who were waiting in line with her. It appears her plan was a success as she managed to move 200 fellow shoppers out of her way.
Police Lieutenant Abel Parga told the Associated Press the lady was "competitive shopping." That's putting the "best construction on everything." If I had been one of those who had found my eyes watering and my throat burning, I would have referred to the lady as being "an out-of-control, over-stressed individual, who had deliberately and with malice aforethought committed a massive assault and battery upon innocent and unsuspecting shoppers."
What the lady did was terribly wrong and hardly the kind of way God's people ought to remember the Savior's birth. The only positive thing I can say about the woman is that she understood better than most the point St. Paul was making in our Daily Devotion text for today.
By that I mean she was successful as she strained toward what lay ahead; she was solid as she pressed on toward her goal; she was single-minded in her desire to win the prize.
Sadly, the acquisition of Christmas presents -- and not the worshipping of the Christ -- was her goal.
In that, I suppose, she is not alone. Maybe you know some folks who go Christmas shopping, but never worship the Lamb of God.
This is why we who have seen the gift of forgiveness and salvation the Babe of Bethlehem has won should always keep His worship at the forefront of our celebrations. The world may see the gifts, but we need to see God's great gift of grace which comes to us in the Person of His Son.
Worshipping and sharing the Savior ... that is the goal toward which we must press this Advent, and always.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, keep me ever mindful that while earthly gifts and presents are nice, they are but a shadow of the gift which is given to us in Jesus' birth. May His presence in our hearts keep all our Christmas' celebrations in proper perspective. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries