Sunday, December 26, 2010

Did I miss Christ this Christmas?

I see Christmas through the world’s eye

I have to confess; I don’t know if this is a rant or more of a profession of confusion out of desperation. There are things weighing heavily on my mind and in my heart. Maybe, hopefully there will be cohesion within these words rather than them winding up being some kind of mixed up hodgepodge that doesn’t make sense. I’m liable to step on some toes. Sometimes I have a knack for rubbing people the wrong way. Usually it’s those that are reluctant to slide out of their comfort zone. But I’ve never been one to not speak what I have to say as long as it’s worth saying and that maybe something will come out of it.

Today of all days, in spite of how much I love this day, was a stressful day for me. Not necessarily in regards to this blog, though to an extent some. At the end of the day I sat at the edge of the bed exhausted, reflecting over the whole day thinking, “What just happened?”

Christmas day has ten minutes left as I open Word to begin typing out this unedited document for my blog. Christmas is over and I am saddened. Not saddened that Christmas is over, but by what my eyes and heart has seen. The truth should be evident that for most people Christmas has been reduced down to feelings that are dictated by previous experiences. By the media and popular influence. I can’t recall a bad memory during the holidays in my past for me to dislike them.

I’m not perfect. I’m far from perfect. As a matter of fact I can usually feel God bring it to my attention when I get stuck in a rut of beating myself up over some kind of guilt. And something dawned on me today. Ever since the beginning of the holiday season I’ve noticed the negative attitudes and misplaced attention that seems to infest every area of our lives. At least that is from the world’s perspective. And of course there are some in the church.

Call it naïve, maybe stupidity, call me dumb, whatever, but up until this year I hadn’t noticed seeing Christmas from the different perspectives between the world and the church. Don’t get wrong, I’m not THAT naïve. I know they are there. It’s just that in spite of even my own troubles
I continued to attend church and encircle myself with Christian influences and people. Because of this it’s hard to see Christmas without Christ. The whole scene is “buzzing” with His name. There’s talk of giving, love, sacrifice, and the all time favorite of reminding us what Christ was sent here for. Being in church for the most part of my life I’ve noticed that it tends to have themes just as the world. Dare I say that the local church follows the worlds themes? Compare the world’s TV, advertisement industry with the majority of the churches messages and charities for one year and you are sure to see they correspond. Don’t major car dealerships advertise deals on trade-ins with freedom from previous debts in July? And don’t we usually hear the message about Freedom in Christ in July?  Isn’t there always a lot of hype about new resolutions in the New Year and at the same time don’t we usually hear the message about how Christ makes all things new and we are a new creation? The same can be said for Thanksgiving, Christmas and the others.

How don’t get me wrong. I am not bad mouthing the local church. I love attending church. What I am saying is this: I haven’t been able to attend church for quite a while. Now, I can see Christmas through the world’s eyes and it is empty. For a few years in the past I struggled with alcohol. I continued to attend church asking God for His help while not truly letting go of it. I lived in the world while pursuing Him to take me out of the world.

As Christmas Day has come to an end I look back at the holiday as if an outsider looking in and ponder upon these things: All I hear is complaining about shopping for others than I ever want to hear. Doubt they would complain if it was a “buy one-get one free” sale so they could keep one. All I hear is complaining and whining about something not being on sale “enough.” Doubt they would complain if it had never been advertised as “sale” in the first place. All I hear is more complaining about someone being sold-out of something. I never understood how someone could get angry over the loss of something they never had possession of. I hear how far someone drove to buy this or that gift. Would they drive that far to give a gift? I hear how someone got up early and stood in line for hours for gifts. I wonder if they do the same to both give and be a gift. I hear how this that or relative got angry because of get-together scheduling. I wonder, since when did holidays become about them? I hear how this or that isn’t good enough. I’m privileged to share a meal with men and women every Thursday from a half-way house that I’m sure your “not good enough” is good enough. Take your “not good enough” to the nearest retirement facility. I’m sure they will enjoy it. Or the closest alcohol and drug treatment center, I’m sure they will appreciate it. That’s just local.

 I don’t remember seeing the church move this Christmas. I remember the Salvation Army. But they will be gone. I remember one Christian discussion board protesting the teaching of Santa Claus to our children. His defense was more out of cowardliness. I don’t remember seeing the church move this Christmas. I remember the Lifetime Christmas movies advertising. I remember way too many computer wallpapers of women in skimpy Santa tops and hats in high heels. I don’t remember seeing the church move this Christmas.

The holidays began with Halloween. Thanksgiving came and went being overshadowed by Black Friday. The greediest day of the year that happens to be after the day we are supposed to recognize how thankful we are for the things we have. How ironic. Christmas, when we are supposed to recognize and observe what God did for us. But how can we with New Years right around the corner. Most have already made plans.

Both Halloween and Christmas are religious holidays. Halloween is a pagan holiday, while Christmas is a Christian holiday. Yet for some reason the separation between church and state doesn’t seem to apply to Halloween in our schools. I wonder if that’s because the church isn’t as pro-active as the world is. Seems to me the world is pretty pro-active. Christ was pro-active. He was so pro-active he scared the world. Our schools observe Halloween while Christmas breaks are almost all observed as “Holiday or Winter” break now.

The world has Santa. The church has Jesus. So then I pondered these things:
Santa only comes once a year, while Jesus is always with you.
Santa fills your stockings with goodies, while Jesus supplies all your needs.
Santa tell you, “you better not cry,” while Jesus tells you, “cast all your cares on me for I care for you.”
While Santa puts gifts under your tree, while Jesus became our gift and died on a tree....The cross.
My Jesus is better than the world’s Santa.

Tune in next time when I talk about The Problem with Forgiveness

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A Recycled-Dad with Bipolar & Parkinson's, reflections on fathering and family life and other stuff thrown in'll love my Soap Box Rants

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Why I call myself a Recycled Dad

I call myself a Recycled Dad because of the struggles with remarriage and being a step-parent and weekend dad. This is also about my life living with bipolar and how it affects me personally, my family and my job. It also reflects on the grace God has poured out on me throughout recovery from alcohol and an eating disorder. Recycled Dad is about my reflections on the wisdom God teaches daily on fatherhood and being a better husband in spite of being bipolar.

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