Wednesday, December 19, 2007

christmas in a different light

I have always loved Christmas. The music, the food, pretty lights and glittery ornaments. I'd rush around buying gifts and wrapping them. I'm one of those people who goes out after the holiday and buys up tons of shiny, sparkly wrapping paper goodness- to use it the next year creating elaborate packages. These fun things along with quality time with family and friends have always made the season something I greatly enjoy. But over the last couple of years, Christmas has lost a bit of its luster.

It's not because I dont still love the aforementioned activities- I do. But my worldview is changing. I'm a born and bred midwesterner, daughter of republican small business owners- who grew up believing that the American dream was the be all end all of human existance. The thinking always was, at least in my mind, that God favored the United States and that our system of capitalism and democracy was the *best* in the world. I firmly believed that poor people were poor because of laziness and did my once, twice or three times yearly volunteering at a homeless shelter, nursing home, whatever- because, after all, that was some kind of effort.

I dont begrudge my parents anything- they're wonderful people. I had a happy,secure childhood and was ( and still am) quite blessed. But as mentioned in the previous post, I'm learning that the kingdom of God looks like no government or societal system here on earth- including America's.

So, back to Christmas. As my eyes are opened more and more to the needs around me, the once a year charity surrounding Christmas makes me ill, quite frankly. I'm torn because in a way, yes, any charity is 'good'- people need help. But at the same time, what in the world is wrong with we Christians that we aren't doing that all year long? Why are we throwing huge expensive pageants in our multimillion dollar sanctuaries furnished with plasma screen tv's and state of the art sound equipment? Why do we buy a cheap gift for an Angel Tree kid and think somehow that's teaching our children a lesson in loving others? Why do we count on government agencies to make up for our laziness and apathy?

If I sound bitter, I promise I'm not. I'm just broken hearted..the way things are right now is just not right. As mentioned in the previous post, there are those who believe ' another world is possible.' For a long time I ascribed to the thinking that the earth is just a cesspool spiraling down into destruction, and the only hope was to accept Jesus and pray to be 'raptured out' of this mess ASAP. I still believe my only hope is Jesus, but I believe His message is not only about self salvation, but about living out God's kingdom here on earth. That His message is about reconciliation, healing, compassion- action on the part of those who love and follow Him.

So I suppose after all of this rambling..the question remains, what can we do to bring God's kingdom about-not just pay lipservice to charity at Christmastime. Maybe there's a much bigger problem out there than the battle waged over ' Merry Christmas' or ' Happy Holidays'. Maybe it should be how we live, how we act-rather than talking about what we supposedly believe.
I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.
Matthew 25:40

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