by Ian Robinson, Major –
Just before Thanksgiving, an angry donor sent us an e-mail because he was upset at seeing one of our red kettles outside his local supermarket. He said he would not donate a dime before Thanksgiving and suggested that we are being influenced by “corporate America,” which is pushing Christmas too soon. Ironically, the e-mail arrived in the middle of our Kettle Kick Off event at the Farmers Market in Los Angeles!
But it set me wondering, maybe he is right. Do we push Christmas too soon? Are we guilty of climbing on the secular bandwagon to start Christmas long before November is over? What next? Kettles in October? Maybe we should cash in really early and start the kettle season after Labor Day? We might end up with year-round kettles before we’re done. Is it too soon?
Of course, the secular world pushes us to do a lot of things too soon. Glossy magazines show us images of the 7-year-old daughter of some celebrity dressed in adult clothes, high-heeled shoes and wearing make-up. Teen and pre-teen singing stars encourage our children and grandchildren to dress and behave like grown-ups. Are they growing up too soon?
Then there are those of us who are older and are being pressured to take early retirement, to check out of the work force while we are in our fifties and can still enjoy life. It sounds idyllic, but the trouble is we are living longer and the prospect of 30 or 40 years of indolent retirement is too much to bear. Is it too soon?
We have accelerated our world to the point where nothing is fast enough anymore. Cars, computers, smart phones, travel; everything has to be done at speeds that were unthinkable just a few years ago. Is it any wonder that we often hear people say, “Is it just me, or does time seem to be going much quicker these days?” No, it’s not just you. It’s all happening too soon.
There are benefits to all this speed. Faster computers mean we are capable of doing more work, or, if we prefer, we can spend more time with family and friends. Faster travel means we have more time to enjoy our vacation, or more time to do more work when we arrive. Smart phones, with instant messaging, Wi-fi, email, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and so on, allow us to communicate with frightening immediacy and uncompromising honesty, or dishonesty, whichever way you want it. Remember writing letters? Postcards? Telegrams? Paper birthday cards? All consigned to history in the relentless pursuit of real-time communication. Is it all too soon?
Which brings me to Christmas, because it is coming very soon. Over two thousand years ago the Son of God broke into this dark world to become a human being. His arrival, regardless of the endless scholarly debates about the year of his birth, was not too soon. Neither was it too late. His timing was perfect. The Bible says, When the right time finally came, God sent His own Son (Gal. 4:4,GNT). It was the right time because the world was under Roman rule and communications over long distances had become easier. It was the right time because the world needed a Savior more than ever before. It was the right time because it was the time God had planned from before the beginning of time. It wasn’t a moment too soon.
So put your laptop aside. Turn off the TV. Ignore your smart phone calendar. Stop worrying about the presents you still have to buy. Take some time to meditate on the wonderful, magnificent, glorious gift that God has offered freely to everyone on this planet. Doesn’t it thrill you? Can’t you sense how privileged you are? Don’t let this moment escape in the worldly busyness of Christmas. It will be over all too soon.