Perhaps, it is the combination of our current national financial situation . . .
Perhaps, it is the crushing cultural consumerism which weighs so heavily upon us before Christmas earlier and earlier and earlier each year . . .
Perhaps, it is because of the amount of money spent on Christmas each year . . . supposedly close to 480 billion dollars world-wide . . .
Perhaps, it is the knowledge, in comparision, that it would only take 10 billion dollars to allow everyone in the world to have clean water.
Perhaps, for many, Christmas is not "peace on earth, good will toward all men!"
My good friend, Floyd, and I have been having an on-going several month discussion on the topic of "what is worship?"
Today, in an email, I asked him, "what is Christmas to you?" Floyd responded back with a copy of this essay, which he wrote several years ago.
Let me tell you about my friend, Floyd. He is a good man, husband and father. He and I have been friends for longer than I can remember.
Floyd is also a deeply spiritual man . . . he is one of the smartest guys I know. What he shares below comes from a long and thorough throught process. Floyd thinks deeply about things before he speaks or writes. He is not trying to force his way on anyone. Neither am I (at least I hope not)!
Some may read Floyd's essay, and pass judgement that people "are not allowed to think this way at Christmas!"
My response, "and just how are we supposed to think at Christmas?
Are we instead to get ourselves in debt buying presents . . . and in doing so, have no resources to give to those who could really, really use the help?
Are we instead to decorate and store decorations that we will usually replace yearly because we see something new at the lawn and garden store?
Are we to expect gifts from everyone . . . thus cluttering our lives with more and more and more things we have to manage and take care of?
And, in the process . . . cover up the birth of Christ in the process?????
I find that more and more and more people are thinking this way about Christmas. And I think that is good.
I don't want to rebel . . . I am not trying to be a Grinch . . . I just want to find more and deeper meaning . . . in the knowledge that in Christmas, God places his holy hand into the very fabric of humanity . . . as an act of His compassionate grace . . . and gave us through the birth of Christ . . . the greatest gift ever . . . the gift of acceptance!
There are people it seems, who want to know what happened to the "child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."
There are people it seems, who want to know why we have replaced "Merry Christmas" with "Happy Holidays."
There are people it seems, myself included, who are asking . . . "Where is the peace!"
So, read on . . . and if you wish to respond in a thoughtful manner by leaving a comment, then do so.
Ever forward . . . ><>
I hardly want to think about it yet. But the time is very close when we all must. Christmas. The time of year when pastors work the hardest. When there's the most depression, the most family conflict, the highest number of suicides. Joy to the world.
I found a great arrangement of the song, "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear," which I wanted the band I’m in to perform. Not only is it beautiful musically, setting the song in a minor key, but it includes a verse you hardly ever hear. For most Christmas songs, you know, we only have one verse memorized. But I find this verse very moving:
And ye, beneath life's crushing load, whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way, with painful steps and slow:
Look now! For glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing!
O rest beside the weary road, and hear the angels sing!
It moves me because it speaks to what I wish Christmas could be for me, and never will be. It never will be, because all of my immediate and extended family, and in fact everyone else I know, are caught up in the traditional American Christmas. I don't like it, and haven't for a long time, but I also don't want to be the bad guy and spoil everyone's fun. So I go along.
But if I could do Christmas my way, there would be no decorations or colored lights. No frenzied season of party after party, with vast amounts of food and meaningless presents nobody really wants or needs. No shopping season in the crowded stores, the consumerism that is pretty near the opposite of what Jesus stood for, culminating in an orgy of stuff and boxes and wrapping paper on Christmas morning.
Christmas for me would begin with a season of prayer and study, to learn all over again why God would do such a thing as become a man. The day itself would also be a day of quiet contemplation and prayer, mixed with wonder at the glorious smallness of what happened. The smallness of a baby's cry in a lowly stable in a tiny town in an occupied country, and yet the sky above filled with angels. The Lord of the universe born to a dirt-poor teenage girl, attended by shepherds, and yet the news of his birth shook the houses of kings.
Christmas my way would be a time to stop all the activity, and think and wonder about these things. A time to be at peace. A time to rest beside the weary road, and listen for the angels.
May we all find some peace.
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