All I Want For Christmas Is…

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At our house for the past several Christmases, we’ve had (for us) the unusual joy of not putting up a Christmas Tree…

Or lights…

Or decorations.

We make no production of Christmas at all and, through this lack of production, we’ve realized a blessing.

For most people, Christmas truly has become a production. Granted, it is an enjoyable one for many, but a production none-the-less.

Unfortunately, that production has become a framework upon which we hang all our Christmas expectations like so many baubles on an evergreen tree.

For middle class America, those expectations, (moderate by our own measurements), are simply astounding by the measurements of much of the world; and, certainly immense by the measurement of the under-served in our nation.

We made our decision to stop our own “Christmas production” for mostly practical reasons, but I have found this simplicity to be a refuge in a overly produced season. Every year, the lack of holiday production in our home serves as grounding for me as I venture out into the “Christmasized” world.

Cars with rear mirror views impeded by the mass of presents stacked in the back seat, roll right on by a young couple on a corner huddled together for warmth with a sign that reads, “Lost Job, Need Food.”

Families walk in and out of grocery stores with their baskets full of Christmas meals without giving a second thought to donating to people collecting money to provide the hungry with a simple meal or maybe a little taste of Christmas.

With these American truths in mind, I can’t help but think of the simple and meager conditions of the birth which Christians celebrate this time of the year.

I can’t help but think of the message of a child being born in a manger, of the lessons that child would grow up and teach us, and I think, all I want for Christmas is…

…For people to stop looking for reasons to hate each other.

I’ve grown weary of the divide in our nation. We seem to be fueled by hating the other side, blaming the other side, judging the other side. It isn’t just something that plays out on the national scene, it gets played out in our families and our churches as well.

This Christmas I want us to love our neighbors a little more – even if we don’t agree with them.

…For those who are doing well to feel a little less entitled to our privilege.

I am sick and tired of people who judge the homeless, the poor, the unemployed and say things like, “they just need to work harder,” “the welfare system is encouraging them to live that way,” and a host of other ignorant, thoughtless and hateful statements.

We’ve started thinking that we aren’t where they are because 1) we work harder than them, 2) we are smarter than them, or 3) it is the will of God (“but for the grace of God, there go I”).

But the reality is that what separates us from them is 1) luck and 2) opportunity.

This Christmas I want us to recognize that from the top to the bottom of our economic divide, we are more alike than different.

I want us to help each other more and help ourselves a little less.

I want those who have two coats to give a coat to those who have none.

…For Christians to start acting like Christians.

It breaks my heart to see what has become of the followers of the baby born meek and meager in a manger some 2000 years ago.

Somehow “Christian” has become a life of privilege rather than a life perspective.

It has become a badge of honor rather than a burden to bear.

It has become a way to access privilege rather than a mandate to align with those who have been marginalized.

For far too many people, being a Christian is about attending church and being served rather than being church and doing the serving.

This Christmas I want Christians to get serious about the teachings of Jesus.

Here’s the thing, all of my Christmas wishes won’t cost you a single dollar, but they will cost what you have been taught life is “really” about.

The good news is: when you lose the life that prevented you from doing these things, you will gain the life God desires for you – the old life will be gone, and the new life will have begun.

Merry Christmas and peace on Earth, goodwill toward ALL people.

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