Saturday, November 28, 2009

Matthew 19

We just finished the last of our Christmas decorations. Although, I've got to admit, it was fairly painless because my 12 year old is big enough to help get stuff in and out of the attic and we really didn't put much up. We threw two net lights over our two biggest bushes. We put a wreath, stockings, nativity set, and Christmas children's books on our mantel. We put up three thin trees in small, medium, and large--one for each kid. We listened to Christmas CDs--A LifeChurch one and my childhood fave, Elvis. And, as is expected of three kids, we started our talk about presents.

In our family we don't really do presents. We put stuff in the kids' stockings and do a scavenger hunt with clues for them to find them. We get other people presents who we know will get us something, but that's it. And for the last couple of years, we have gotten things that support a charity of some kind. But to get right to it, our philosophy is built around this creed, "It's not our birthday."

I am very saddened by what Christmas has become. It makes me sad to see what a hollow counterfeit our celebrations are. I don't imagine any of the gifts purchased on Black Friday for Jesus' birthday were things that were on His wish list. Even the warm feelings, good cheer, generosity, and year-end-tax-write-off giving really honor Him too  much. When I see Jesus here talking about divorce and saying basically, "Well God had to lower His standards for you because your hearts were do hard," I think that's probably similar to how He puts up with our Christmas celebrations.

I don't know about you, but when I picture the children that Jesus welcomed into His lap, it isn't curly haired cherubs with clean shining faces and well-pressed outfits. It's the kids staring at me from the photos of unsponsored needy kids from the letter I just opened from Compassion International.

The Bible has an awful lot to say to rich people in the New Testament, and it's not particularly flattering. I mean just this camel/needle thing here is enough to make someone never want to be listed as rich I would think. And then when I read the passage about the rich young ruler, it's no wonder we deny we're really rich. In almost every case I see of someone writing about this, they include the caviat that not everyone is called to give everything, just this particular guy. But if you continue to the ending with this disciples, that's not the impression it gives me. "But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first."

I think I must not really believe this. If I did, how would my life be different? My home? My budget? My schedule? My Christmas celebrations? I know it's painfully convicting, but it says right here in this chapter that it is going to be hard and that there's a lot to give up. More than once. I've already made so many steps towards this like downsizing our home (but it's still comfortable and spacious), not wasting money on interest to debt (but we still have two nice cars), taking in a foster child (but there are 3,000 more in shelters in my county alone).

I guess all I have left to say today is this. Just make this season about Jesus' birthday. Whatever that means. As much change and awkwardness as you can stand. As many uncomfortable conversations with family as you can take. Do as much as you possibly can to make this season the way He would like it to be.


Anonymous said...

Amen, Sister!! Jesus is the reason for the season. Having just returned from a muslim country, I am painfully reminded of how far off base we Christians can get---which unfortunately causes others to stumble, or not even consider the Gospel for their own lives. Father help us walk as you would have us especially as we celebrate the birth of our Lord this month.