Saturday my daughter’s and I along with some other good people we worship with and serve at Chisholm Trail church of Christ delivered food baskets to some folks in our community. I wanted my girls to be a part of this good work. After all, Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” We aren’t saved by our good deeds, but saved to do good. One of the highlights of the morning was the conversations in my vehicle. My daughters were asking things like: “Daddy, why are taking food to these people?” “Daddy, why are there people in the world who don’t have food anyway.” “Daddy, do these families have children?” “Do those kids get to open gifts on Christmas morning?” All of these are good questions, I tried to answer them the best I could. I talked about our responsibilities as followers of Christ to take care of those who can’t take care of themselves. I talked about how God has always wanted his people to look out for those who are poor (cf. Deuteronmy 15; Jas 1:27; 2:14-17).
Telling your kids about the importance of extending the borders and boundaries of the kingdom of God is one thing, but doing it together is another thing entirely. What good is just talking about it helping others, if you aren’t actually doing it?
After delivering to our folks on our list, we went to Walmart. As were walking in, my girls are singing, and smiling. Right in front of us at the doors are the Salvation Army volunteers jingling their bells and collecting money. Walking out of the store and very loudly talking about her shopping conquest was a woman with her husband and one of her children talking about who they have finished for and who was left. Her conversation is negative, her tone is nasty, and her words were interesting to say the least. The last thing she offered was “I don’t give a_____, they _____ better enjoy this ______.” (I can’t repeat what she wrote, it is not wholesome!!) I was just waiting for one of my little ones to ask me what “_____” meant. Thankfully, my kids didn’t respond.
But I was frustrated with this lady. I believe she is entitled to her own negativity and so on, but I am frustrated with her blindness. She and many others and unfortunately even those of us who attended churches, miss the true spirit of Christmas. The angels announced to shepherds in the field the goodnews of great joy that would be for all people that long awaited deliverer, the Messiah had come. Don’t miss the subtly of what Luke announces. Luke proclaims goodnews. The emperor’s usually had sole claim on this phrase, and goodnews was used to announce his birthday, or other important events of his reign. Jesus was born during the time of Pax Romana, a time of increased safety and security, of new building projects, new roads, economic growth. But notice, Luke announces the arrival of the true King, the one who lead his people on a new exodus out of the slavery of sin, and restore true peace, the shalom of God to his marred creation:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)
The angels were announcing peace was now possible between God and man, and between man and man. A peace that was lasting, holy and present in the arrival of the God-man (infant) that was placed in cloths and lying in a manger.
When we will we learn Christmas isn’t about standing in line Thanksgiving evening, or even about getting what we think we want to impress those we really don’t like, by purchasing those things we really can’t afford. What if instead of cuss words and bitterness we somehow could convey the shalom of God that has broken into the world in the arrival of newborn King? What if instead of commercial pursuits, the church began to truly bless those in need. What if we traded in our materialistic impulses and instead poured ourselves out on behalf of those who are without? I think then we would capture the true spirit of Christmas!