|my friend erin from mission year said this:
||[Dec. 25th, 2004|11:50 pm]
"Truly He taught us to love one another|
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall he break for the slave is our brother
And in His name, all oppression shall cease."
(O Holy Night)
December 24, 2004
I sang these words in the shower today--a feeble attempt to place myself into the spiritual and reverent--to remember "what this season is all about." I sang the words above and heard them again for the first time. I don't feel joy when I sing or hear those words. I don't feel awe or wonder or quiet peace. I feel sadness and regret. I feel a burden. I feel fear that I will never sing them without those feelings; never with confidence and a good conscience. I sang as my little brothers played downstairs: Kyle banging on his drums (a Christmas gift from the year before), Joey staring at the computer with TV noise beside him. Mom and Dad are hurrying around town to get the last of their gifts.
I know what should come next. Anyone could guess. That typical spill about how commercialized Christmas has become; how no one gets what it's supposed to be about; about all of the unfortunate little orphan children and poor families who don't get a Christmas--maybe one present--and how we should be grateful for what we have and give a little to them. And God bless those with their radio station-sponsored angel--carrying the name of a child who won't get much of a Christmas this year. God bless those who serve in a soup kitchen over the holiday season. Truly...God bless them. Because even a flicker of light is beautiful in this overwhelming darkness. But shame on them.
Shame on all of us for our stupid, miniscule attempts at being what Christ came to Earth for, who He died for, who He longs, without fail or tire, for us to be. Shame on us for singing those words of "O Holy Night." Shame on us for thinking we're doing something great if we get goosebumps while humming Christmas carols and hymns; if we look at the nativity scene with peace and wonder and truly love the God-child lying there but then wake the next morning and every morning after only to forget what He went on to do every day following the day He first opened his eyes.
People talk of how material we've become; of how the true meaning is history. Christians shake their heads at the world and engage in pious rituals to gain back a piece of all that has been lost. I wonder what I should do with this. I, too, will enjoy opening my expensive gifts tomorrow morning. I will stand outside of my grandmas tonight, look up at the black sky and thank God for coming down to the dirt for me. I may even share some of these thoughts with my family tomorrow morning--as my dad continues the tradition of telling the blessed story, straight out of Luke. And I will probably be listened to with tolerance. They will all nod their heads with sympathy, one or two may roll their eyes. I am some sort of liberal, hippy crusader in this family so these rants are expected. I can't change them. (I'm having a hard enough time changing myself, or should I say-allowing myself to be changed) I can't make them take back their Christmas gifts and buy food for the poor.
I probably won't be doing that, and I"m not so sure I should.
I don't want a one-day holiday conviction. I want to be one who stands out.
"Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother." I want to sing these words standing beside my brother, broken chains at our feet. Mostly, I get scared (here in the "after Mission Year") that I'll have to stand alone. I get even more scared that that will keep me from standing at all. But I know I never want to have another Christmas with all the "Christmas Spirit" bullshit that arouses our conscience for two months or less every year. I don't want to sing those hymns and carols like they were written for only one season, one period of time. Christ came in that moment, on that "holy night" as the song says, with the same agenda-shattering, butt-kicking, painfully humbling message that He tries so desperately to get to us every day since and still. And what would Christmas look like if we all truly believed and lived this on that day and every other day of our lives?
**Friends, I hope this little piece of my mind isn't ruining your Christmas. It might not even make any sense. I wrote it with a charged, quick hand and just got around to typing it now: 12:40 AM, Christmas morning. I almost didn't send it so as not to seem a whiny politician--standing up on my soapbox and telling the world how horrible and awful they are for not giving all their Christmas gifts to the poor, or how sad it is that they bought superficial things to begin with. But I hope that you know that is not my intention. If it were, you would have to hang me for hipocrisy...I've spent more money this Christmas (and much of it on myself) than ever before. I didn't even think about picking an angel off the WHAS angel tree. And I'll be pretty disappointed if I don't get what I asked for tomorrow morning.
This little note came from a heart..weary from searching and seeking and questioning..lonely..missing the community she shared all of these struggles with. It came from a frustrated heart...about to be even more frustrated because there seemed to be no purpose. It seemed that it would all have to be bottled up inside until she thought it might help to share it with others- whether they understood or agreed- just to get it out, into somewhere else.
Please have a wonderful Christmas. Stuff your face and be in love with your family, even if they're as redneck and ignorant as they are here in Southern Indiana. Enjoy your presents. Be thankful for them. Sing hymns and Christmas carols and get goosebumps when you light a candle to pray, or watch the snow fall over a fake, plastic manger.
Simply pray that He makes us weaker, meeker, lesser, more like He was born to be--so that we might grow into the radiant Kings and Queens He died for us to be.