Amidst the tidings of comfort and joy being spread this week, 13 year old student Mason Carter took his own life after reported bullying at school. While we were busy decking the halls, a 26 year old butcher was murdered by a coworker at the grocery store where they worked. These aren’t national headlines, they are from my local newscast just this morning.
I’ve read the Bible and studied it in depth, but I’m not a Christian. Still, I can’t help but to wonder what the Jesus I read about would do in today’s society at the time of year that is set aside to celebrate his birth. John 11:35 comes to mind.
I’d like to say that I don’t have a problem with the so-called holiday spirit, but that wouldn’t be accurate or truthful. I have a deeply-rooted problem with the over-commercialized and dollar driven parade of stuff that the holiday season has become. I have a problem with a society that starts Christmas marketing campaigns in September when new census data shows that nearly 1 in 2 people in this country are classified as poor or low-income.
Maybe it’s just the way I’m wired, but I don’t think that anyone should wait for a holiday to want to help others and generally be good to each other. I don’t need Thanksgiving to remind me of what I am thankful for and I don’t need Christmas to remind me to do unto others. Those values are part of my daily life.
If you are Christian, I encourage you to rethink Christmas this year. If Jesus is your motivation to celebrate at this time of year, why not celebrate by doing things the way he might have done them. I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t include going into debt to give extravagant gifts, but it just might involve giving to those who truly need it. And while we’re on that subject, instead of serving food in a soup kitchen at the holidays (like everyone else will do), try making a pact with your family or friends to volunteer your time once a month throughout the year, or committing a few dollars each month to support an organization that helps those who need it.
If you want to give someone a real gift, show them how much you love them every day. I’m pretty sure that’s what Jesus would do.