Tuesday, December 20, 2011
I guess most people that know me well realize that I am not very religious. I believe that religion is a man-made concept. I have very strong spiritual convictions, but I do not follow a specific religion. I mention this because maybe I’ll sound like a “bible thumper” here, maybe not, that’s a matter of opinion.
In any case, we are preparing to celebrate Christmas and, whether anyone likes it or not, Christmas represents the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. I would guess that Christmas was the very first holiday to be stripped bare of all meaning and turned into a marketing extravaganza. We buy gifts, line our rooftops with lights, erect Christmas trees, don our finest attire, throw amazing parties, and prepare lavish feasts. And, as the years and decades pass, we seem to strive to do all of these things bigger and better. It seems as if this frenzied pace begins before the ever essential Black Friday and screeches to a halt in the wee hours of Christmas morning. Why do we do it?
What would happen if we chose not to do it one year?
Now I know many messages, emails, facebook statuses and tweets circulate about “keeping the Christ in Christmas.” Could we really do that though? Would anyone really do that? Yes, I'm even asking the Christians. Let’s think about it for a moment. I certainly do not believe everything ever written in the bible. My son has referred to it as a “big game of telephone” and I think he certainly has a point.
However, I do believe that Jesus Christ came from meager beginnings, walked the earth spreading a message of peace and love, helped others and died by the hands of ignorance. Regardless of my faith or spiritual beliefs, I believe most of this story simply because the behavior of everyone around Jesus is very typical of humans, even today.
I do believe that if you are going to accept your day off, or your double pay, shop ‘til you drop, and partake in all of the other festive cheer, you might consider thinking about the birthday boy for just a moment or two sometime during the holiday season.
I’m going to keep it basic. After all, that’s all I know.
Jesus came from meager beginnings. His pregnant mother gave birth among farm animals. She had nowhere to go and no one took her in during her journey. Were they homeless? Were they dirty? What was the condition of their clothing?
I wonder how a 2011 version of this couple, with this woman preparing to bear a child, would be treated today.
Jesus did not care much for shopping. I know that’s not exactly how the story goes. However, imagine if Jesus roamed among us today and he asked us to stop doing business on Sunday. Would you stop? What about all the Christians? Would you all stop shopping, working, and doing any business on Sundays? How about all of you that quote the bible during your lively debates on hot topics such as gay marriage?
What did you do last Sunday?
Jesus did not judge. Period. (He wouldn’t even have judged that one word, incomplete sentence.) Seriously though, he did not judge prostitutes, lepers and, in his final hours, he did not judge the very men that brought about his death for “they know not what they do.” When did we forget this? We know everyone does the best they can with what they have. But we judge, we judge, we judge… It’s one of our favorite pastimes, right up there with shopping. I struggle with not judging those who judge. :) Seriously, that’s one of my weaknesses. So, I’ll make all you judgmental freaks a deal.
I’ll stop judging you in observance of Christ’s birthday, if you live and let live for a day.
Jesus helped others. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, loved the forlorn. He shared everything. He reached out to those who did not make the best decisions. He was charitable without requirements. Would we call this man, the son of God to so many of us, a “bleeding heart liberal?” A dirty hippy? (He did wear sandals and have long hair.) Why are we so focused on ourselves that we cannot risk anything or step out of our comfort zones to help another? Why are the rich so terrified of losing a small amount of money?
Why can’t we take a few minutes out of our days to simply reach out and share some love with someone, whether we think they deserve it or not?
I just think that this story is so significant and we so often forget that the story is not about religion. It’s about people. I think the story has been clouded by some of the people that use it for the wrong reasons. It’s all of that “cloudiness” that makes it easier for us to learn something from a fairy tale or fable than to take a lesson from the bible. Let's face it, no one is using the words of Mother Goose to tell someone that they’re going to burn in hell.
So, don’t judge Jesus or his story by the misrepresentations of his so-called representatives and truly celebrate his birthday this year.
I’m sure many of you could stand making your feast a little bit smaller to share with someone less fortunate.
Break down our ridiculous social norms and knock on the door of that person you think may spend the holiday alone. Invite them over.
Don’t shop, don’t facebook, don’t twitter… just live in the moment and love those around you.
Love someone that is nothing like you at all. I’m sure you have a family member that you always gossip about or a co-worker that simply appalls you. This year, just love them, regardless of how much you don’t like what they do.
And maybe, we can try this all out in the New Year as well. We’re human, we will not be perfect, but we have no excuse for not trying.
Call me if you have trouble with it. Seriously, I'll make you a latte, a cookie, or a cup of tea to help you through or we can just talk. Change has to start somewhere and I'm willing to do my part.