The scarce, special reason for the season

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Scarcity is at the heart of the law of supply and demand. The more scarce a needed resource is, the less available it is and the more people want it.

Some actors who have the means will fly their hairdressers to far-flung and exotic locales because hairdresser X cuts and styles a coiffure just right. If for some reason that in-demand hairdresser were unable to make the trip, however, the actor would somehow get a haircut from someone else. It wouldn't be the same, but it would be manageable.

Some wealthy international patients fly at great expense to Cleveland Clinic in Ohio or the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to be treated by physician X, who is known for skill in performing certain medical procedures. If that sought-after physician couldn't see said patient for whatever reason, somehow another specialist would be found. Again, not ideal but tolerable.

The NBC show "Saturday Night Live" flies 91-year old announcer Don Pardo to New York City from his retirement home in Tucson, Ariz., every time the program is performed live. Pardo has been the "voice" of SNL since its inception in 1975. One of these days, though, Pardo will become physically incapable of the journey; when the day happens, the producers of this venerable late-night comedy mournfully will find another person to say, "It's Saturday Night Live!"

There are people in this world who have specialized skills highly sought after by others. At the end of the day, though, the reality is that no one is irreplaceable.

No one but the One. And I don't mean Tiger Woods.

Christmas is such a big deal because Jesus is the only one with the supply. This is the reason we make such a fuss over the birth of a particular peasant baby in ancient Palestine. He is option A, and there is no option B. Grace, the unmerited forgiveness of human sin by God, was made available by only one source, the Christ-child of Bethlehem. No one other supplier exists. (Point made, preacher! Move on!) Indulge me a little further. Luke put it this way: "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved." (Acts of the Apostles 4:12)

The Gospel message is good news because it blows up the law of supply and demand. Yes, there is a solitary supplier of grace -- but no scarcity exists. Grace does not run out. The supply is inexhaustible and can be received simply by placing a sincere trust in Jesus Christ for salvation.

This is the reason for the fuss at Christmas. Jesus, through his action on the cross, set aside the normal notions of supply and demand that govern our capitalistic system. One supplier, heavy demand -- but no scarcity. May you grow in the love and knowledge of him who came to save. Happy new year!

Jeff Long is pastor of Centenary United Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau. Married with two daughters, he is of Scots and Swedish descent, loves movies and is a lifelong fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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