According to an article at CNBC, a recent survey showed that 77% of consumers plan to return gifts this holiday season. That is 77 out of every 100 people. One in every five people plan to return more than half of their gifts. It appears people will buy a lot of things, keep what they want, or what fits, and send the rest back. Accepting a lot of returns is the price of admission in retail these days. The company that doesn’t have a strong return policy won’t garner as many sales.
None of this would sit well in my growing-up family. When you got a gift, no matter how ugly or ill-fitting, you uttered a prompt and profuse thank-you to the giver. The gift was given in love and the gift was never as important as the relationship with the giver.
I don’t know if Christmas has become more about the gifts than the giver, or whether online technology has helped us realize we don’t have to settle. A little of both, I suppose. Here is what I do know. God has given us God’s very self at Christmas. That is what “incarnation” means. God is in Jesus, in our world, in our life. In your life.
There is a lot about that we could unpack, but one important message is that Jesus is the reminder that God isn’t planning to “return” us. God has accepted our world as acceptable to be in. What is more, God is reminding us that we “fit” in God’s life, no matter how unfit or ugly we seem to ourselves or others. Christmas isn’t about a decision whether we will accept the gift of God. It is a proclamation that God claims us as a good gift, and a good fit, in the world God both inhabits and imagines.
From all of us at your United Methodist Foundation, Merry Christmas. We hope you feel the joy of knowing God’s “no return” policy, and that there will never be plans for you to be anywhere but in God.