It has been said that “no table is complete without a centerpiece”. Though this blog is not about centerpieces, I would like to give some background on centerpieces before I make a point.
Centerpieces have been used since recorded history and have always served as the visual focal point of the table.
In Roman times, centerpieces were composed of decorative foliage with vases and an endless configuration of ceramics. Later traditions included pastries shaped like people or animals, and in more recent times, flowers and foliage were used celebrating a season or event. Today we use decorative objects to serve as the visual center of the table. According to event planners, there is something about the centerpiece that naturally pulls your eye towards it.
I write this one week before Christmas and cannot but make a connection here. The spat of shootings, stabbings, and brawls on Black Friday drives the point home that Christ is far from being the centerpiece at His own banquet. Black Friday happens just after thanksgiving and heralds the coming of Christmas. Yet no sooner do some leave the table of thankfulness to camp out in cold weather with their children in makeshift tents days before the “Holy Event” only to rush in and fight for things that will wind up in a trash heap in five years.
How is it possible that the whole world can celebrate events leading to your birthday and it have almost nothing to do with you accept for the occasional use of your name in vain?
It is clear that the centerpiece has shifted from God to greed. People in a frenzy break their backs to make enough money to buy presents and even go into debt so that Christmas can be complete. We know that giving and exchanging gifts can be wonderful as long as you know what’s at the center.
Surely a table with the wrong centerpiece throws off everything. Missing from the Christmas table is the presence of Christ – the birthday boy who would never tolerate the wholesale of His Father’s “House of Prayer”, let alone today’s corporate greed machine. No one could think He gave His life for that.
Christ gave His life so that all who turn to Him might have an eternal Hope. This is what we should celebrate – giving and exchanging gifts to mark the stunning reality that in the midst of darkness, “light has come into the world”.