by Kathy Neufeld Dunn, Associate Conference Minister (Kansas-Based)
I don’t want to sound like The Grinch, but is anyone else tired of the lead-up to Christmas and the way that we’ve come to celebrate one of the holiest of days in our culture? God coming quietly to a desperate world in Jesus has become a desperate try to keep up with the Joneses. It has become a glitzy celebration of excess, fit more to worship the Roman god Bacchus than the Messiah. For others who are barely making it, or not making it at all, Christmas has become a time of shame and hopelessness. This advent and Christmas, can we instead “liberate Christmas from its cultural captivity and rediscover the truly prophetic story that speaks to the crises of our world today (Alternative Seminary)?”
The coming of God into the world is a radical reorganization. Jesus’ mother, Mary, sang about this.
He shows mercy to everyone,
from one generation to the next,
who honors him as God.
He has shown strength with his arm.
He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations.
He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones
and lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty-handed (Luke 1.50-53).
How can our Christmas celebrations celebrate this Jesus and the merciful, just work of this amazing God? If you have not seen the good, challenging ideas of Advent Conspiracy, please look them up (adventconspiracy.org), or check out the DVD available in the Conference Resource Library. Here are their simple and radical suggestions for how to reshape our advent and Christmas celebrations, so they more closely reflect the One whose birth we are celebrating:
· Worship fully, for Christmas begins and ends with Jesus
· Spend less, so you have more resources to share with those in need and on things that matter
· Give more intentionally and relationally
· Radically love others like Jesus did
God’s greatest gift of love was Jesus coming into the world. Jesus turned things upside-down and still does today. His is not a sugary-sweet, sentimental love. It is brave, compassionate love that wants everyone to have enough and longs for God’s presence to make a difference everywhere.
Come, Lord Jesus, come! A joyous and just Christmas to all!