I stumbled across this article recently and found the message of a “Missional Christmas” a worthwhile one as well as a much needed one. Quote from the article:
“Valuing people is the simplest form of missional living.”
Adding “valuing all life” instead of “people” ushers in the fullness of
the Gospel message!
At this time of year, I find it easy to get discouraged. As I go about the daily trek to and fro from work or around the neighborhood, it is difficult to see anything in the lights people decorate with or the trees displayed in windows; in the stores crowded with holiday decorations and shoppers buying gifts for people who often just don’t need more stuff; or in the faces of these same people and many others that put on display the stress of the hustle and bustle to “get the shopping done, cards sent, purchase food for the big family feast” along with the rest that goes with this time of year – I don’t find in all of this the meaning of the season. It’s sad to me. The season is about Jesus Christ and his birth as a baby human child, but no ordinary child – nestled in a manger surrounded by animals, born to poor parents in the world’s eyes – the Son of God.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” ~Isaiah 9:6
To me, this means joy and wonder and excitement! It is the beginning of a new world order where all creation can rejoice because this child, this Son of God, is ushering in a new era! It is not about buying each other stuff most of us don’t need or sending cards or about holiday decorations or tables set for a feast, but about the love of God, reaching into a broken war torn world, to give people the greatest gifts of all – LOVE and PEACE. All I want is to shout it out on the mountain top, show all the poor and down trodden, human and non-human, that there is HOPE!
We do not have to live in a war-torn country to experience the brokenness of this world. It is put on display everywhere, in everyday circumstances. There is an underlying unrest that permeates all of humankind. We see it in divorce rate statistics; skyrocketing homelessness; escalating violence in our schools and communities; in the tone of our elections or mud slinging in our media; in declining moral/ethical family and societal values; in the divisiveness we may see and/or experience in our work places; in the disparity between the rich and the poor, the well fed and the starving, the downtrodden/oppressed over and against those living free from tyranny; in more subtle ways we are seeing it in the faces of the shoppers on the consumer treadmill that is the hallmark of this season. We experience it in the way we treat each other by simply being less than loving.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” ~1 Corinthians 13:4-7
We also see the brokenness of our world in mankind’s view of the creation. We lord it over creation in tyrannical ways instead of practicing a loving stewardship that cares for their needs, sees to their well-being, cares for the earth – our mutual habitat. We do not need to look far to see that our special place as those placed over the creation to protect and nurture all, from animals to the earth itself, has gone terribly wrong.
“The righteous (rightly-related) care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.” ~Proverbs 12:10
“Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land.” ~Isaiah 5:8
May we learn to live in peace with one another, with the entire created world, through the strength of the Holy Spirit, and set aside our differences and look toward – indeed live into – the new world order that Christ ushered in by living lives that are non-violent to anyone including creation!
“And his name will be the hope of all the world.” ~Matthew 12:21
As we look to the celebration of Christmas, the greatest gift we can give is to value one another. To be present in one another’s lives. To give to those who really have a need for food, shelter, clothing, love – those in our societies who many of us walk by everyday for example – the homeless people and animals among us. We can see and value them as those among all of us who the baby Christ child loves and died to redeem. We can give to a charity for humans and for animals, to feed or house them, to give the gift of hope by providing much needed support and supplies.
Instead of participating in the consumer version of the season, perhaps set aside or pare back your traditions and all the stress and the fuss, the shopping. Revel in the meaning of the season and true joy of the birth of the baby Christ child! Keep the simplicity of the Savior at the center. Vow to celebrate this time of year in new ways – ways that discard the worldly celebration it has become – and give to the poor and brokenhearted; create change for the marginalized and oppressed; serve a meal at a homeless shelter; volunteer at an animal or farm sanctuary; support a non-profit that works to restore a natural resource, a park, protect and/or rescue wildlife and wild places. Learn about stewardship issues plaguing the earth and animal kingdom – vow to live in non-violent ways including what we place on our plates. Be the vision of the era the Christ child ushered in – an era of Peace on Earth for all of us!
Thank you for reading and following our blog, we hope you will share the message with others! All of us at Shepherding All God’s Creatures wish you and yours a very loving, peaceful, joyful, hopeful celebration of the baby Christ child – our solid rock and our very foundation!! PRAISE GOD, for to us a child is born! ~Kathy