“Here’s what I think: I believe the goodwill, the pleasantry, and the gentle light shining from deep inside these folk is nothing short of one hundred percent natural. What’s abnormal is the dysfunction; what’s wide of God’s mark are the other 360-plus days; what’s uncalled for is this broken world’s unrelenting pain.” – Epilogue: In My Heart I Carry A Star”
REASON TO LOVE CHRISTMAS! I read a sad post recently, written by someone who said they hate Christmas! They referenced hypocrisy, Christians behaving badly, religion in general, the way people treat one another, commercialism, war, hunger, poverty, and the continual stream of bad news that tells the story of a sad, broken, world.
Another person said they love the pretty lights, the decorations, the singing, the parties, and the smiles – but that they don’t accept the story of Jesus, or the idea that God loves us – or even exists, or the kind of faith that Christmas represents.
The opening quote in this post is from my Christmas devotional book, and it references something that I understand as extremely important if we are to be the kind of people who “live forward” into a future that is defined by promise.
You see, not only do we worship a Creator who has (since that first Covenant with Abraham) both given us and delivered on hundreds of faithful promises, we are also – and in every sense – people of promise. By that I mean that we are loaded with untold possibility, and unlimited potential, and untapped resources, and the kind of hope we can build eternity on.
NOT SO RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS: That’s why I don’t see anything contrived, or false, or hypocritical, or unrealistic about the temporary surge of goodwill and grace and generosity that makes this time of the year such a beautiful experience.
The reason it’s temporary isn’t because it’s fake – it’s temporary because we fail to claim, and practice, and live into the truth that God loves us this much, and that the best way we can respond is to love one another in the same way.
[Christmas goodwill] is temporary because we fail to claim, and practice, and live into the truth that God loves us this much, and that the best way we can respond is to love one another in the same way.
I’m talking about accepting Jesus, inviting Christ into every detail of our lives, and actually allowing God to be King! Redemption is no temporary magic wand, waved over us from the manger as we salute the newborn babe while we walk on by, it’s a reorientation of our entire mode of being!
Which brings me to one of the reasons I love Christmas so much. I love Christmas because it gives us a chance to tell this story while people are actually paying attention. Sunday afternoon and evening over seventy youth from Wake Forest Presbyterian Church went out with 30 adult guides to “Practice Random Acts of Kindness” all around our community. The stories they came back with could be a new blog all of it’s own.
Around 5:00 they swung by our home to sing carols to their pastor, Rebekah. I was going to invite them in until we realized there was no room! So they crowded down the drive and walk, singing while Rebekah worked her way through the crowd to hug every neck she could find.
Beautiful. Authentic. Love. Faith. Hope. Joy. Belief. And promise; so much promise. Zechariah, talking about the coming Messiah, summed things up in these timeless words from Luke 1:
“Because of our God’s deep compassion,
the dawn from heaven will break upon us,
to give light to those who are sitting in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide us on the path of peace.” – Luke 1:78-79
– In love, and (so very much) because of love – DEREK