“And the angel said unto them, "Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, Which shall be to all people. "For unto you is born this day in the city of David, A Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12
Famous people crack me up. You may not be aware of this (unless you’re an Oprah stalker…uh, I mean fan) and I wasn’t until I heard a local radio announcer talk about it. It seems that Oprah has a list of favorite things…things that you may want to buy because…well, because Oprah has listed them as her preferred gifts. Apparently I’m not hip to the Winfrey phenomenon, since I didn’t know of this list before today. Now I’m worried that my former holiday shopping experiences may have been somehow compromised…well, not really.
This is an annual (I didn’t know that either) list as well, and it contains items like cosmetics, music, appliances, jewelry, books…whatever the big O (my apologies to Oscar Robertson) deems as one of her favorite things. The scrutiny must be tougher than FDA testing since an item is not added unless, as the Oprah website puts it… “It's not enough if Oprah likes an item…she has to love it!”
Now, this hot list was all tied into a visit to Macon, Georgia, where 45% of the viewers are tuned in to Oprah’s show everyday. Oprah wanted to reward all these loyal fans by giving away some of the “LIST” items while taping a show in Macon. Oprah mania hit the city hard with a local paper even creating an "Oprah Tracker" on its website to let online viewers know Oprah’s every move in town. That’s star power… or the town of Macon had nothing better to do that day, I’m not sure which.
Just prior to the Saturday taping in Macon, Oprah had an idea. She took some tickets for the show and went door-to-door, looking for people who were watching her show. If they were watching her show, they got one of the tickets…if they weren't, well, she moved on to the next house! Her quote was priceless…she said:
"You never know when I'm going to come knocking!"
Later on she added another interesting quote:
"It's a very fun show, and it's very exciting to be able to give things away. The truth is, I realize that they're just things and that a panini maker cannot change your life," she says. "Most people never won anything or got anything in their whole lives for free. So what it does is, it creates a level of excitement and hopeful energy for you that you believe good things can happen. And good things do. And so in that way, you are changed. You are not changed by the things, but you are changed by the experience of it all."
No matter what you feel about Oprah, she went through some extraordinary measures to make some people feel special. Reading about the list (or the trip to Georgia) didn’t convince me to be an Oprah follower but I do appreciate her heart. Still, it got me thinking about a few of God's favorite things…did you ever wonder what His list look like? I found a small one in one of my favorite scriptures.
“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Micah 6:8
Let’s see…Justice, mercy and humility, quite big for a short list, and then I realized that all three things are present in the Christmas Story. A story about a just God fully aware of the type of mercy needed to awaken our souls to the need for a savior. So the Father came knocking on the heart of a dark world to give a gift, all so we could experience salvation.
“For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face.”
God would have to humble Himself to include us in this story, for mankind to see His face. Paul tells us how humble in Philippians 2: 5-8. (the Message Bible)
(5) Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself.
(6) He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what.
(7) Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!
(8) Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death--and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion.
From a humble town called Bethlehem, God announced freedom from sin was at hand. The Father uses His own “STAR” power to draw distant travelers to the birthplace of Christ. He fills the sky with angels, singing about the promise of the Messiah, wishing for a human ear to receive the Good News. Flowing from the merciful heart of God is an epic tale with a story line full of signs and wonders. Mary knew this story of God’s mercy would be awesome, in Luke she pronounces:
“And His mercy is on them that fear Him, from generation to generation.” Luke 1:50
Picture a few of God’s favorite things with me. Mary gently holds the little hand of the creator of all and her future savior. Waves of mercy cause her to ponder all things quietly. Joseph welcomes lowly shepherds into the fold and the experience that will forever change them. Mercy, justice and humility…all wrapped up in swaddling clothes.
The Father eagerly invites all of us into this story to share the miracle of His favorite things. His deep desire is to sweep us up in its plot and to become more than spectators…like those witnesses of that “STAR” power previously mentioned.
“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11
The Greek word for treasures is thesauros (thay-sow-ros’), which means the place in which good and precious things are collected and laid up. A storehouse of precious items, a warehouse stocked and filled. I believe we are “storehouses”, filled to the brim with valuable gifts ready to be “presented” back to the Father in the form of gratefulness and worship. A close and growing relationship with the Father is indeed one of His favorite things…it’s mine as well.
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.” Luke 1:68