bruce_woodThe other day I was watching television when I saw a commercial for Macy’s. Playing in the background of the commercial was the opening song from the Broadway musical, Rent entitled, “Seasons of Love.” While I was watching this I turned to my wife to make a comment and saw her with a similar look of curiosity on her face as well.

“Are you thinking the same thing?” I asked.

Silly question. (We’re that annoyingly cute couple who finishes each other’s sentences – I don’t mind the haters, you’re all just jealous!)

But back to being serious. You see, the thought my wife and I had at the same time was how Macy’s could actually use this track while trying, in essence, to hock their stuff to consumers just before Thanksgiving. You see, at the heart of the story of Rent are the ragtag group of misfits whose poverty of substance teaches them the value of the richness of the human heart and soul. In the musical it is seeing each human soul as valuable and worthy to be loved, regardless of who they are or where they come from that is at the heart of the story.

Starting to see the conundrum?

It is interesting to see these commercials from time to time. I was reminded by a friend of mine, Michael Benson, of a commercial by J.P. Morgan Chase using Cat Steven’s, “The Wind” to sell investment and banking products. I often wonder if commercial creators don’t actually stop to smell the irony of their own imaginings sometimes, or if they just feel that if they can cut the song just right, it will sell their product so it doesn’t matter.

So, I come to ask the real question: is it really the, “Season of Stuff?” You see the song, “Seasons of Love” was about love, not things. Cat Steven’s song was not about stuff it was about an idea, floating on the wind, not getting pinned down. I am, by no means, knocking on the industries that keep our economy going, never would I come down on hard-working people, and I would certainly never indict people for trying to make a living. I would, however, call us to keep the first things first and to keep our focus on what is truly important at this time of year: people.

When Jesus was born in a Bethlehem stable, he was not born to be a man of great wealth or power. He was not a man born to celebrity or influence. He was born to love people. His great love for people would compel Him to eventually take on the worst punishment and execution available in His day so that others might live, so that when He arose from the dead, the message of love, of forgiveness, of reaching beyond ourselves might become the most powerful message throughout all of time.

But it started at Christmas. With a little baby. This is the reason we celebrate. Not because we can all get lovely stuff (which itself is not bad – the giving of gifts can be an act of love) but because we can all receive the truest gift of Christmas: Love.

So, as well all start to find ourselves shoulder-deep in the sometimes very heavy Christmas season, stop to remember. Take time to actually be with the people you will invite into your home. Invite someone into your home who maybe has no place to go. Give the gift of love this Christmas. You may find that all the of the stuff in the world cannot fill your heart the way reaching out to someone in need can.

Just take time this year. Time to love, time to share, time to be a friend, a family member, a bringer of hope. Stop to listen to a Christmas carol and really listen to the message. Find a church this Christmas and find yourself there at some point to listen to the greatest story of love in the world. Just find yourself. Don’t get mixed up with all the wants and pressures, let those anxieties go and start to realize that it’s the not the stuff that makes the difference in people’s lives, it is the gift of your presence in a real and active way that may become the greatest gift anyone could ever receive.