Mega Millions

(Spoiler alert: I’m against it.) It was practically a feeding frenzy this week, as Americans lined up across the nation to purchase their $2 Mega Millions lottery tickets before the Tuesday night drawing. One news report from the Nevada-California state line indicated that Nevadans were streaming across the border to purchase the lottery tickets in California (a Mega Millions participating state), with a waiting line so long that it stretched from the California store back across the border into Nevada. California sales accelerated to 25,000 tickets per minute! Never mind that the chance of picking the winning numbers was calculated at 1 in 259 million. With the last minute rush, the jackpot was driven up to the second highest in U.S. lottery history—a cool $636 million (which could top $645 million when the final tally is made). And when America awakened on Wednesday morning the headlines announced there are two winners—two still anonymous ticket holders who will spit their $636 million jackpot and enjoy what a whole lot of Americans will consider a very merry Christmas. Actually, I’m glad there was a winner—because had there not been, some estimated the jackpot would have grown to $1 billion by the next Tuesday evening drawing, which would have been Christmas Eve. And the irony of a billion dollar gambling giveaway on the eve of the day when some of the world would be remembering the birth of Jesus would have been acutely embarrassing! I suppose had He been born in Caesar’s palace in Rome, a billion dollar giveaway might make a semblance of sense. But for the God of the universe, whose wealth could be calculated as Croesus plus infinity, to walk away from it all, choosing rather to be born into abject poverty in a backyard cave for the solitary mission of saving this race of lost children—somehow the giddy hoopla over Mega Millions pales into absurdity. And so as you celebrate this Christmas, perhaps gathering with family and friends or perhaps reflecting all alone, I hope your heart and mine will turn from the holiday tinsel and bling to a midnight sky overhead. And there in the darkness let us bow down with quiet joy and fervent gratitude before this same Jesus, who “though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9)—not just a meager jackpot, but rather the emptying of “the whole treasury of heaven” for us (Desire of Ages 57). “O come, let us adore Him!” Amen.