A former student was upset because he was concerned about what he was getting for Christmas. He was thinking his parents were upset with him and that Christmas wasn't what it used to be when he believed in Santa. He felt he deserved that same feeling in anticipation of what he would receive for Christmas.
"So what are you doing for Christmas? What do you want? What are you gonna get?"
My answer took him by surprise.
"First, I am going to church to celebrate Jesus' birth. I know we picked a day to celebrate His birthday and we can celebrate that any time we want but this is the day we chose and that is what I am going to do," I replied.
"I don't understand why a church would have service and take you away from your family on Christmas day!" he said without thinking. "Shouldn't you be with family first and opening your gifts and all?"
"Yes, I should be with my family," I said. "And we should all be in church together to celebrate the greatest gift of all."
Christmas has become so commercial that we must teach our children that it is not about material things they receive but about the Greatest Gift they have been given: The most precious gift of love ever as expressed in John 3:16 as it came into fulfillment on that night over 2,000 years ago.
My husband refuses to recognize the day as the bible does not say exactly what day Jesus was born. if it had been relevant, the Bible would have mentioned it. He says that we took the day from a pagan celebration and made it Christian. Jesus said to take the Lord's supper to remember His sacrifice but not his birth. I say we can take any day and make it Holy so why not December 25th? So I celebrate!
I do agree with the profane commercialism of the day with the pressure to buy, buy, buy. I refuse to purchase and decorate my home with blow-up, motorcycle-riding Santas, plastic light-up nativity scenes and the like.
Each Christmas, I have vowed to put feet to Jesus' teachings in some specific way. I try to do that all year long in taking the church beyond the four walls of a building by doing what we do in prison ministry and children's ministry. Of course I want my daily walk to reflect this even without being a part of a formal organization.
This year my projects were my less fortunate students and my mentee in the Second Chance Mentoring program. I have a young mentee who has had absolutely nothing: no clothes, no shoes and basically no family. She has Jesus, which she hadn't had in her life and now she can see some light at the end of the tunnel. People whom were thought to have written her off are returning or taking notice. My daughter and I surprised her with a photograph of things that will greet her when she is released from parish prison. We got a suitcase and put some new and used items of clothing in it for her. My daughter found that she likes some of the same books and has prepared a box of books. I have not seen anyone go on about a photo on a sheet of computer paper before, but she was ecstatic over these few things. More so, she has been telling me that what she appreciates most is someone listening to her and caring about her.
After our prayers both separately and together, her dad and brother traveled from out-of-state to pay her a visit. Then another mentor from the past came to visit! Things are looking up in anticipation of her release.as her grandmother has agreed to come and get her from another state and reunite her with her family.
To me, this is what Christmas is all about. My daughter sees the benefits in giving more than Christmas gifts to others. It's about giving of your time and resources all year long to give someone else the resources to help themselves out of the quagmire that lives can become without love.
God's love is not about hate for anyone:
--not gays in the military or wherever they may be
--not for brown people who may be living here illegally
--not for those who worship differently
--not for those who don't drink the tea or depend on "Faux news"
--not for those whose present address is where they have been sentenced as punishment for a crime.
It just is NOT about hate no matter who tries to make it so. It's about seeing Him in the eyes of every pair of eyes that looks back.
I went to Christmas service this morning at Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church. This afternoon I will go to my mother's house for lunch and visiting with out-of-town relatives. But this has been a great season to celebrate and see the Holy Spirit in action as we take Christ's walk. For that I am truly grateful. I thank God for the gift of his only Son, teacher, Savior and example.
It is my prayer that more parents of my students will make Christmas more about what it should be--a day of recollection of how much one can give by His example during the year rather than anticipation of what material things one can receive on the day.