Psalm 139:13-27 MSG

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.

Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
God, I’ll never comprehend them!
I couldn’t even begin to count them—
any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!
And please, God, do away with wickedness for good!
And you murderers—out of here!—
all the men and women who belittle you, God,
infatuated with cheap god-imitations.
See how I hate those who hate you, God,
see how I loathe all this godless arrogance;
I hate it with pure, unadulterated hatred.
Your enemies are my enemies!

Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—
then guide me on the road to eternal life.

While driving to church a few weeks ago, I asked my four-year-old what she wanted from Santa for Christmas.  My husband and I had already decided we were going to scale back the number of gifts we got our girls this Christmas to one thing they wanted, one thing they needed, and one thing religious.  Since she was now old enough to actually have an opinion on what she wanted, yet never has been one to ask for things, I thought I should give her the opportunity to choose one of her gifts.  After a few minutes of silence, I asked her again thinking she had not heard the question. “I’m thinking, Mommy,” she responded.  Upon arriving at the church several minutes later, she had her answer. “Remember the Snow White I got last year who had candy in her head?  I really liked that.  I would like another one of those.”

A Pez dispenser! Ten minutes of thoughtful contemplation and the thing she decided she wanted most was a Pez dispenser.  While we planned to limit the gifts we got the girls for Christmas, we were thinking of spending around $75-$100, not $2. During my Bible study group’s last book discussion, we talked about how children are born trusting and loving. They are “wonderfully made” by God. But we, their parents and adults in their lives, teach them fear and prejudices. In my daughter’s one simple answer, she taught me that we also teach them materialism. Christmas is not about spending exorbitant amounts of money on gifts people don’t need – and often don’t even want, it is about celebrating the gift God gave us with the birth of Jesus and using that time of reflection to determine how we can help others with that same spirit of love.

As so, while we will still buy our daughter more than just a Pez dispenser for Christmas, I will not feel guilty about her modest presents and I will remain thankful for the gift she gave me this Christmas – a lesson that the roots of materialism are taught, not inherent. I doubt I will ever see a Pez dispenser again without remembering this lesson.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, thank you for forming my body and soul and making me “marvelously made.”  Help me to strip away the lessons of fear, prejudice and materialism I have been taught in this world.  And help me to not teach those vices to the children in my life.  During this time of Advent, I remember the amazing gift you gave to us that first Christmas and praise you for your love and devotion to us despite our selfish ways. In Jesus’s holy name I pray with joy and thanksgiving. Amen.

Bethany Taylor

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