Yesterday, to get out for a few minutes and do a little walking, I visited some local stores. Not for Christmas shopping – I had that done and under the tree, except for the impulse purchase gift for my great niece Ashtyn Nicole Reno, who was born two days before my birthday and is just 9 days old today.
No, I was out buying laundry detergent and trying to find Dad a red shirt so he’d have a couple of options for his Christmas wardrobe.
After hitting three stores, I had detergent and a poem-reciting teddy bear tucked away in the Cavalier, but no shirt. So, I decided to give the local Walmart a look in case Mom overlooked a men’s red shirt in medium when she was there earlier that morning. Turns out she didn’t; the only ones left were performance fabric shirts that Dad hates.
That’s not the point of this story, though. I got to Walmart, which was crowded with last-minute shoppers, and parked near a cart return. Locked the car, started strolling up to the store. On the way I passed a car with an open door. The people inside were having an argument, and a shrill young female voice was dropping F-bombs every few words. I shook my head and muttered a sarcastic “Merry Christmas” as I kept walking.
A couple hundred feet away, at the doors, the atmosphere changed completely. The Salvation Army bell ringer was having church with a man who had just exited the store. It was like a lighthouse beacon on a stormy night, these two brothers in the Lord talking openly about Jesus, his atoning death on the cross and the grace and mercy of God. People flowed by with lists and purchases and important things to do, ignoring the conversation, and I was struck by the object lesson in it all.
How often do we rush right past the true meaning of Christmas on our way to the under-tree floor fillers? Maybe it’s time to stop and talk about the Good News of Christmas. Even if the conversation happens in the Walmart parking lot.
May you all have a safe, blessed and merry Christ-mas Day, and a blessed 2014!