Jesus' Big DayWell, it's Christmas officially now. So, what else would you expect, but some cynical reflection...
I just returned from my home church's Christmas Eve service. I love the pastor at the church and several people that are very special to me there, but I unfortunately saw very few of them. What I was ultimately struck with was nothing new to the circle my mind tends to run in these days. Tonight this was sparked by several songs in the service. It needs to be mentioned that Zionsville Presbyterian is a very affluent church in a wealthy community, it is too long of a story to tell how I ended up a member there...Anyway, many of the songs reflected quite accurately the lowly position by which Jesus came into the world. I guess what struck me is that so much of that reality has really been lost in the realm of American Ideals.
As this paid musician was singing some rendition of some Christmas song, I was struck that we were talking about the Man who became our savior was born into the world with nothing, no prestige or wealth. Yet, this was being sung in state-of-the-art "sanctuary", with beautiful interior design, vaulted ceilings, and large plate glass all behind the "altar". Also, most of the families (like mine) were preparing for expensive gift exchanges to commemorate this vital spiritual event.
I guess this is just one more time when I am struck at the level of absurdity Christians have inundated our beliefs with culture, particularly one that with much reflection at all is absolutely opposed to what Jesus who life seemed to indicate to me. Sacrifice, service, humility, and genuine love. Some of this is reflected honestly in many of our Christmas traditions, but most of it seems like name-brand rip-off forms of these qualities.
Instead of creating holiday traditions around the celebration of Christ's birth that emphasize materialism and consumption, comfy bed fellows of capitalism, shouldn't we be celebrating in a way that truly shows the love to those who Christ seems to have passion for? Giving a tickle me elmo doll to a kid that watches his mother struggle to make rent or other similar financial hardships does not quite seem like the proper response. To celebrate the birth of my savior, I am asked to develop a list of things that I "want". I am somewhat frightened with the ease at which I can come up with this list. Something in me indicates that my relationship with Christ should be helping me discover the shallowness of the pursuits of most these "wants". Isn't Christ calling us to more? More than our own interests, but to the interests of others? And yet the holiday to celebrate his birth is one of the avenues in which these "wants" are increasingly desired...
Unfortunately, I have no response for my own actions, for I am guilty as charged by my own measurement.
True blessings to you, my brothers (and whoever else reads this)...May this season (and all the ones that follow!) bring you even closer to becoming the person that Christ is really calling you to be. Thanks for being a large part of challenging me with your thoughts over the last several years.