Thursday, December 25, 2008
So, today is Christmas Day, and we have tried with some limited success to scale back our giving and receiving (we did scale back our giving more successfully). As my faith as changed in the last few years, it has become very obvious to me that how I was used to doing Christmas was not how I want to do it in the future. I have spent my holidays bowing down to consumerism, and not to the God I believe in honor of the birth of his one perfect incarnation. I want to change that.
Some things really influenced me this year: the website Advent Conspiracy sums it up a lot of it pretty well. In a world that remains in spots hungry, without water, without medical care, we celebrate the birth of a poor child by spending money. Our house church adopted families again through Share Your Christmas, which was great and I was able to actually deliver to our family in the projects in a really bad part of Durham. Our family was a 28-year-old single mom and her 6 kids. And with Maggie's birth, I've really thought about how we teach her what we believe Christmas is about without being a Scrooge. Hopefully we can have a nice, traditional, fun Christmas without going overboard, diverting some our gift giving to those in need, and including her in our projects to help others.
We are lucky enough to have my family down for a day and now Debbie's family here from all over the country (Seattle, Tacoma, Champaign, and Mebane - the last two can rhyme if you try really hard) and I think the sermon at Duke chapel put that into perspective. On Christmas, we choose to spend time with certain people, and that's a way we love tham. And that's the story of Christmas: that God chose to be with us. I think that is simple and beautiful. I hope we can continue to choose to be with our family and friends, and start to choose to be present to those around us in need.
The Christmas stories in the Bible are set up to show how Jesus birth and subsequent life started a revolution against the powers of the day (Matthew's version set Jesus against Herod and Luke sets Jesus against Ceasar). I hope our lives and our Christmas' can be part of a revolution against consumerism, poverty, fear, and hopelessness.