We were out of town for Thanksgiving visiting Chris’s family in Texas, so last week when our little church came together, we were a little sorry to discover that one of our families had not had a special meal on Thanksgiving because they had decided they could only afford to cook one holiday meal and it would be for Christmas. They were pretty matter-of-fact about it, as, obviously, they make choices like that all the time.
Later that day, I was pondering that and remembering an exchange I had with someone days before who inquired about our ministry. I had mentioned that it can be a hard season, when people are often reminded they can’t keep up with the material pace of our holidays. That person quickly reminded me of food shelves and holiday gift resources we might wish to direct people to…
As I thought more about it, I realized that the holidays aren’t any harder for many of my friends, than any other time of the year. They are still struggling to make ends meet, pay for gas to get to work or come to church, buy food and clothes for their kids, pay rent, etc. And they, and their kids, are pretty accustomed to not having extra or putting off celebrations or presents. It is the rest of us who don’t like to think of that at the holidays because it reminds us of the inequity and unfairness in the world and why some children have far so many advantages and some begin deep in the hole before they are even born. It is a little harder to enjoy Christmas with all our celebrations and packages if we are actually remembering those who are left out.
But I am so grateful that I get to be uncomfortable so much of the time, because I think it reminds me of real Christmas—that awesome splendor became a human baby in everyday blankets laid in a feeding trough. And for what purpose?
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19
We have a Savior who came for justice and healing and freedom. Not a band-aid for the holidays, but for always. And I see, too, that the poor surely includes me. I need freedom and the eyes to see and favor so that I can live for righteousness and freedom and justice and wholeness.
These are the gifts of Jesus and they come with a cost: they ask for a willingness to surrender security and careful plans and all my own schemes to make it. And to instead, go ahead and pick up my cross, trusting God for the grace to carry it and follow.
We pray that God will bless you in this holiday season with a deeper and richer knowledge and experience of God’s own self.