Christmas truly has become a production for most of us. That production has become a framework upon which we all hang Christmas expectations. For middle class America, those expectations (which are frequently moderate by our measurements) are simply astounding by the measurements of much of the world and certainly immense by the measurement of the under-served in our nation.
The lack of holiday production in our home has stood as grounding place for me as I venture out into the Christmastized world. Cars whose rear mirror view is impeded by the mass of presents stacked in the back seat pull right on by a young couple on a corner huddled together for warmth with a sign that reads, “Lost Job, Need Food.” Families walk in and out of grocery stores with their baskets full of Christmas meals without giving a second thought to the Salvation Army bell ringers who collect money not to provide a grand Christmas meal for the under-served, but to provide them with a simple meal or maybe a little taste of Christmas.
With all of that in mind, I can't help but think of the simple, meager, humble conditions in which God chose to enter into this world. I think of the message of a child being born in a manger, of the lessons that child would grow up and teach us... and I think, all I want for Christmas is...
...for people to stop looking for reasons to hate each other. I've grown weary of the divide in our nation. We seem to be fueled by hating the other side, blaming the other side, judging the other side. It isn't just something that plays out on the national scene, it gets played out in our families and our churches as well. This Christmas I want us to love our neighbors a little more – even if we don't agree with them.
...for the middle class to feel a little less entitled to our privilege. I've left the wealthy out of this discussion because I really can't understand what it's like to be that rich. To pass judgment on them would really be unfair, but I do imagine this Christmas wish is for them as well. I am sick and tired of people who judge the homeless, the poor, the unemployed and say things like, “they just need to work harder,” “the welfare system is encouraging them to live that way,” and a host of other ignorant, thoughtless and hateful statements. We've started thinking that we aren't where they are because 1) we work harder than them, 2) we are smarter than them or 3) it is the will of God (“but for the grace of God, there go I”). But the reality is that what separates us from them is 1) luck and 2) opportunity. This Christmas I want us to recognize that from the top to the bottom of our economic divide, we are more alike than different. I want us to help each other more and help ourselves a little less. I want those who have two coats to give a coat to those who have none.
...for Christian to start acting like Christians and stop playing games. It breaks my heart to see what has become of the followers of the baby born meek and meager in a manger some 2000 years ago. Somehow "Christian" has become a label rather than a life perspective. It has become a badge of honor rather than a burden to bear. It has become a way to access privilege rather than a mandate to align with those who have been marginalized. For far too many people, being a Christian is about attending church and having people think you are a nice person. That's nothing more than a game; it isn't real and it gives plenty of space for you to be particularly unChristian beginning with the way it encourages you to develop fake relationships with all the others playing the game of being Christian. This Christmas I want us to get serious about the teachings of Jesus. I want us to be intolerant of only one thing – Christians playing the game of being labeled a Christian.
Here's the thing, all of my Christmas wishes won't cost you a single dollar, but they will cost you your life. The good news is: when you lose the life that prevented you from doing these things, you will gain the life God intended for you - the old life will be gone, and the new life will have begun.
Merry Xmas from The God Article... and Peace on Earth, goodwill toward ALL people.