Food Costs at Advent: Cheap and Costly

Advent Season is a time of preparation for Christ’s coming into the world. We celebrate his first advent and eagerly anticipate his Second Coming. Advent is considered a penitential time of somber expectation of Christ’s judgment. We have turned it into a Christmas Party with all the necessary carols and trimmings, and have forgotten the Judgment. Our materialism, overspending, and overdoing stresses us to the maximum and we neglect God’s priorities. This is a season to get our hearts and lives straight, our priorities in order.

A woman bought a parrot to keep her company. She took him home, but returned the bird to the store the next day. “This bird doesn’t talk,” she told the owner. “Does he have a mirror in his cage?” asked the pet store owner. “Parrots love mirrors. They see themselves in the mirror and start up a conversation.” The woman bought a mirror and left. The next day, she returned to the store. The bird still wasn’t talking. “How about a ladder? Parrots love walking up and down a ladder. A happy parrot is more likely to talk.” The woman bought a ladder and left. Sure enough, she was back the next day; the bird still wasn’t talking. “Does your parrot have a swing? If not, that’s the problem. He’ll relax and talk up a storm.” The woman reluctantly bought a swing and left. When she walked into the store the next day, her countenance had changed. “The parrot died,” she said. The pet store owner was shocked. “I’m so sorry. Tell me, did he ever say a word?” he asked. “Yes, right before he died,” the woman replied. “He said, ‘Don’t they sell any food at that pet store?’”

The Holiday season can cause us to spend all of our time and energy on the frills and thrills of Christmas and miss the true nourishment that we need. However, it’s Advent season that helps us prepare for Christ in the most appropriate and profound ways. Isaiah 9:6-7 reminds us that God’s best gift of grace isn’t something you can buy online or at a mall. Grace comes through a child born in a stall: “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.”

What’s the cost of this gift? Hear God’s voice in Isaiah 55:1-3a: “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.”

Come to Jesus the Bread of Life, born in Bethlehem which aptly means in Hebrew, “House of Bread.” Why get so caught up in the candy canes and peripheral fluff of the season when our best sustenance can come only from the Source: God. Put away your credit cards and eat for free from the One who said, “This is my body, my blood; take eat and drink…” The parrot said: “Don’t they sell any food at that pet store?” Jesus says to those of us overwhelmed by life: “I am the bread from heaven, come, eat and be satisfied.”

This everlasting food isn’t just for our personal needs in a self-service buffet “I want what I want” kind of way. God has made it clear that what we do for others, especially the least, lowest, and the lost, we have done for God. Be generous this season with those in need and remember the words of Hebrews 13:1-3: “Love and treat everyone like family. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”

Listen to the words of Joan Osborne’s “What if God was One of Us?” sung by the “Glee” cast and notice the Bread of heaven. By the way, Osborne’s intro words on her original are very appropriate for Advent, too – check out the first 15 seconds on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USR3bX_PtU4:

“one of these nights at about twelve o’clock
this whole earth’s gonna reel and rock…
things thay’ll tremble and cry for pain
for the Lord’s gonna come in his heavenly airplane.”

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