>An Open Letter to the North American Church:

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It is interesting to me that this is the season that we celebrate the birth of The King! Oftentimes we fill the air with debate over whether just saying, “Happy Holidays” is sufficient enough – or if it even warrants boycotting of certain businesses due to their improper Holiday expressions. Offended by the lack of Christ in their salutations we throw temper tantrums and refuse to do business with them. We impose our views on them.

This brings me to this notion of Happy Holidays – really? What’s the problem? Holidays after all means – Holy Days…X-mas is short for Christ-mas! (x became the symbol for Christ in the greek because it is the first letter in the name xristos – see John 1.41) Why don’t we ever complain that the Catholic Mass has been removed from Christ – Mass? What about those families that are celebrating other things this time of year? Kwanza or Hanukah? Are we that arrogant to believe that everything in culture needs to cater exclusively to Christianity? Then we wonder why everyone hates us?

So you want to put The Christ back in Christmas? Well then let’s talk about what that really means! What is it that G_d has in mind? What does Christmas mean to G_d? Do we even know?

Do you think that G_d is concerned that Box Stores don’t put the word Christ in their advertisements…or do you think that G_d is more concerned with their environmental practices (pollution) or even moreso their treatment of the poor! Injustices such as sweatshops and environmentally damaging factories built in places that don’t have restrictions all for the sake of making a higher profit margin – their behaviors have created a whole new English term – The Working Poor… And we’re concerned with their Sunday Paper Advertising Wording?!?!?

That brings me us to another point of contention – do we really believe that G_d even wants His persona associated with consumerism? You know the sense that a holiday that commemorates the life of a man that brought site to the blind, healing to the sick, freedom to the oppressed, and salvation to the whole earth – is celebrated by the distribution of thingsstuff…now don’t get me wrong as Christians we tend to notice the poor at this time of the year…we become a little more generous with our means to the stranger! We remember the poor and marginalized for a moment in celebration of a man that gave his entire life to taking care of the poor and marginalized – don’t get me wrong I am not condemning us for our generosity at this time of year…I am condemning us for our lack of it the rest of the year!

Many of you may be thinking or feeling – How dare give a speak like this at a time of year like this? This is exactly the time of year we need to be reminded of the call that G_d has on His people! To be a light to the world in darkness – to be about Justice and Mercy – to be about Shalom. To love G_d and neighbor! Instead we are filled with self-love…G_d who gave up everything to enter into our suffering is remembered in a manner that is oftentimes a catalyst to greater oppression!

Do we believe that the King of the Universe – The Creator of All Things is worried about marketing ploys or trite arguments over His name being mentioned! Is He that narcissistic? Let’s look at what it seems to be is important to Him.

A King whose riches makes Solomon appear that he lived in squalor – puts on flesh…making himself susceptible to poverty, hunger, thirst, pain, rejection, and even death – all of these things we know he faced!

So what is the incarnation about to G_d? Incarnation is the moment that G_d took on flesh and became a man! What was the intention of this action by G_d? Is this something that He had to do? Was He obligated to us? Can we understand His reasoning?

We say that this is a season of hope – well, that is easy for us to say since we’ve got it pretty good from where we sit! So maybe our idea of hope this season is that we get the best sale price…or that our familial gathering won’t be made awkward by Uncle So-and-So…or grandma won’t drink too much eggnog again this year! Hope that our children will like the presents we’ve picked out for them.

Few of us are thinking about the hope of getting out of an abusive relationship…hope that tomorrow will bring us out of slavery…hope that bombs won’t destroy our homes – a hope of peace – individually and corporately.

You see Jesus (according to John) is that light in our world – that hope – He IS peace – He IS justice in this world…but what does Jesus say about us… he tells us that we are NOW that light – We are to be ready to discuss the hope that others can see in our life…that we are to be about justice!

G_d sent His son because, “He so loved the world!” G_d left the comforts of His affluence and entered into our destitution and poverty…His desire that, “no one should perish” but that “every knee would bow and every tongue confess” – His hope that we would, “obey all that he had commanded” and if we would do so that, “there would be nobody in need” amongst us.

G_d’s birth in Nazareth has little to do with exchanging gifts – little to do with cute carols – little to do with Santa Claus – little to do with plastic nativity scenes – little to do with Happy Holidays or Merry Christmases

But it does have everything to do with the redemption and reconciliation of His creation! The ushering in of a kingdom – His Kingdom – that unlike earthly kingdoms is not oppressive…not destructive…not abusive…not a division of the haves and the Have Nots – but a place of peace, mercy, justice, and compassion – a place of Shalom! He attempted this through living a life in poverty – a life in the margins – a life of rejection – a life of a person without hope…and through that life demonstrated a life of wealth – a life that represents what should be our norm – a life of inclusiveness – a life of hope.

That is what we are to celebrate this season – That G_d became flesh – He does not wait for us to ascend to Him, for He has already come down to us! He met us where we are and through grace and love He desires to lift us up. He has asked for us to partner with Him – to be about hope…to be about peace…to be a part of the reason for the season. He does not desire our lip service – He desires us to be about His Father’s work – our Father’s work. The redemption of all creation!

Not to wish others Peace and Goodwill but to be the Peace and Goodwill to others! Not to critique the vernacular of society – rather for us to become that which is irresistible to our community – a place of love – of peace – of hope!

We should not be concerned about putting “Christ” back in Christmas for He is already there – rather we should be concerned about demonstrating Christ to those who do not know Him. If we want to return Christ to his proper place we should be feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving drink to the thirsty, and visiting the prisoner! But please be warned this is not a seasonal event – Jesus doesn’t tell us in Matthew 25 – I was hungry at Christmas and you fed me! If we want Christ to be the reason for the season then we should live a life that “lifts him on high” a life that demonstrates the beauty of His life – a life that gives hope – a life that brings peace – a life that is about redemption and reconciliation. If we live our lives like that then there will be no doubt of who we are celebrating – And I would venture to say that the whole world would celebrate with us!!!!

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