Christmas, and why it frustrates me

i have had a guilty feeling lately of not blogging on the topic of Christmas. as a blog that discusses Christ, an entry on the celebration of His birth seems like a natural fit.

while i love to see people getting involved in helping others (whether it’s volunteering at a local soup kitchen, donating toys for disadvantaged youth or other means), i have to be honest and say that Christmas time has left me frustrated the past couple of years.

when i get right down to it, i think it’s the fact that Christmas has seemed to be reduced to the act of purchasing something for someone else (often times something they don’t actually want, and even more often something they don’t actually need). and we masquerade this as an act of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. i can’t help but feel that, if Christ were here, right here in our present time and culture, that He would be shaking his head, asking “what are you doing?” if you want to take the money that you’ve worked hard to earn and purchase something for someone you love, that’s great. but please don’t act like that’s a celebration of the fact that God chose to humble Himself to the greatest degree by putting His perfection into human flesh, only so that He could redeem a sinful people. it just doesn’t seem reasonable to think that God would choose us to remember the gift He gave, the gift of His son Jesus Christ, by overspending, by buying, buying, buying, and by purchasing “things.”

do the children of our country really need more video games? does she need more jewelry? does he need another tie? probably not.

and what type of message are we sending all of those who do not profess to be followers after Christ when we celebrate Christmas by purchasing those we love gifts, and doing little to nothing for those who actually need our support most, those who Christ came to serve? is the way we – as believers – celebrate this holiday really any different?

i guess the question i have is, what if we did Christmas different? what if, instead of serving ourselves (through giving to those closest to us, i.e. family, friends, co-workers, etc), what if we identified one or more individuals with a genuine need, and did all we could to serve them, be it with financial support, preparing meals or just giving some of our time to someone who would appreciate the presence of another person more than anything else.

in the book of James, the Bible says “religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” (James 1:27). i think Jesus would be delighted to see His followers choosing to celebrate His birth in this way, by giving to others “in their distress.” not only would He take notice, but people who’ve deliberately chosen to avoid those of us who profess faith in this person called Jesus would take notice, and perhaps they would see that choosing to follow Christ means more than church attendance.

i realize that there are many, many people out there (both believers and non-believers) who choose to celebrate Christmas with service, but year after year i see very little of that. surrounded by a room full of people exchanging gifts with others who already have much more than they need, with stomachs full of food (again, usually with more than they need), and i can’t help but think that something is wrong here.

i suppose the change i am imagining has to take place somewhere. and that leaves me wondering, “how will i choose to celebrate Christmas this year?”

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