Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas seems weird this year

I said to my wife, Sara, the other day, "I think I'm getting kind of weird". What I meant is that I'm really changing in some deep ways lately. This has probably been one of my biggest years of personal growth I've ever had and it's certainly the deepest my growth as a person and a follower of Christ has ever gone. It's so significant that things that used to just seem ok to me don't anymore.

Today I'm thinking about Christmas and I'm just turned off with what we've made it. I'm not on the "Christmas is too commercial - baah humbug" bandwagon. I'm not upset at retailers or even those pathetic people who rush into Wal-Mart at 4am on black Friday like cattle. (I feel a bit sorry for them, but I'm not upset with them). I'm just dissatisfied with what I've allowed Christmas to become for myself, and in extension, my family.

I listed to a conversation yesterday with Chris Seay and Rick McKinley and they said two things that really struck a nerve in my spirit . . .
  1. I think it was Chris who said it's pretty silly for us to give each other gifts on Christmas when it's the birth of Christ we're supposed to be celebrating. Shouldn't we be giving gifts to Christ if it's His birth? Matthew 25 gives us a clear example of how to give gifts to Christ.
  2. One of them (I think Rick) said that this year Americans will spend $475 billion on Christmas, but the global crisis of clean drinking water could be solved for $10 billion. I have no idea if his numbers are right, but even if they're close I feel deeply convicted about being part of this.
It's December 23 and the gifts are purchased and some are already wrapped. I'm not planning on taking all my kids' gifts back to the stores and giving them a stocking with an orange and a peppermint stick for Christmas, but I am deeply stirred about what to do for next Christmas. I don't know the answer yet, but I think it will be different.

Ultimately, I'm just deeply bothered at how my culture just cycles the wealth and abundance around among those are already wealthy and live in abundance. When I say wealth and abundance, I mean me, my family and my friends; not "rich" people. I was bothered this year around Thanksgiving when I heard countless people talk about how Thanksgiving is about being with family. Is that it? No, it's not just about being with family. I'm very thankful for my family, but I'd much rather do something on Thanksgiving to give some other person a reason to be thankful for once than to just be with family and eat too much because 'that's what Thanksgiving is for'. We did this in a small way this year and I'm glad, but I have so far to go.

Please understand that I'm not against family. We have big plans to be with family all next week and I'm very much looking forward to it. Please pray with me that we are safe in our traveling and that we are a blessing to our family. The long trips with a van full of kids are very taxing on me and I usually come home from family visits feeling embarrassed at how I portrayed myself. I'm usually pretty frazzled from the whole experience of traveling and keeping 3 little boys from destroying whatever house we happen to be in on a given day, but that really does not matter. I'm a follower of Jesus Christ and my attitude ought to be the same as Christ's. I pray for that more than anything else for this next week.

So, I feel weird this Christmas . . . this year. I'm glad I feel weird. At least I feel something. Thank you Lord for waking me, just a bit, from my coma I've been in all my life. Merry Christmas!

No comments: