A Christmas Rebellion?

Nativity of Christ by Rohden

I have been pleasantly surprised this Advent season.  I was prepared to receive a tidal wave of Happy Holidays and Seasons Greetings cards with no mention of Christmas in them.  I have been listening for the growing trend towards the frustrating “Happy Holidays” from employees of retail and grocery stores.  I assumed people would feel reluctant to give their time, talent and treasure in such a difficult economy.  Lastly, I made an assumption that people would simply be down this Christmas and feel little joy in celebrating the birth of Christ.  I have never been more delighted to be dead wrong.

Over the last few weeks I have witnessed countless times in my travels around the city of Atlanta people warmly wishing each other a Merry Christmas!  Employees of retail stores and restaurants have been wishing customers Merry Christmas and I am amazed at the number of Christmas cards (not Holiday!) I received from business colleagues and clients this year-a much greater percentage than last year.  To my great surprise I have witnessed countless acts of random kindness in many forms.  From service projects to donated toys, food, clothing and money, people everywhere have generously given of themselves in helping the less fortunate this Christmas.  It is clear to them that Christmas is not about how much you receive, it is how much you give to others.  Lastly, so many people I know well (and many I have only recently gotten to know), have placed the focus on Christ this year and eagerly await His coming.

Why is all of this happening?  I can only speculate, but I believe people are tired of being force-fed a materialistic lifestyle and an illusory “better life” that is never attainable.  They are weary of the political correctness movement that has been progressively taking over our country.  People are realizing that wishing someone “Merry Christmas” should not be construed as offending others and their beliefs, but instead is a simple and heartfelt manifestation of their own beliefs.  How can that be offensive?  We are a Christian country and our country was founded on Christian principles.  Let’s embrace this fact and not run from it.

I also think good people everywhere are fed up with the economy, negative messages from the media and the direction of our country.  The recent midterm election results clearly prove this point.  Perhaps the joy and warm Christmas feeling I am observing is a rebellion against all that is bad and negative in our country and a return to our authentic selves?  I believe this to be true and pray, as I will ask all of you to pray, that we never lose sight of what is truly important at Christmas: celebrating the birth of Christ, giving generously of ourselves to others and spending time with family and friends.  Next year, I will commit to assume the best of people and look forward to another Advent as special as this one has been for me and my family.  O Come, O Come Emmanuel!

May God grant you and your families Peace and Joy this Christmas.

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  1. I love your simple yet comprehensive optimism Randy. Your hopeful and succinct insights make me think of images of lingering memories, not so much of holiday comraderie and sincere expressions of merriment, but of unexpected opportunities of witness to tender moments of charity. A charity of heart, a true manifestation of God’s love, that at times when I have been available to the moment, I have had the privilege of observational participation. When a person such as myself, has been burdened by what I deem overexposure to manifest evil, the tendency toward hopelessness and the fight against ongoing cynicism becomes profound. On the other hand the movement of grace co-exists side by side, and to experience such random moments of seeing the profound action of God’s love, expressed through the human person, is an unexpected opportunity for the hope of love to prevail. The holiday season with all of its pressure and expectation toward nostalgia and good cheer toward men is not always the reality for those with too little. I think of the homeless community in uptown Charlotte, NC. St. Peter’s Catholic Church is in the center of the city, so by virtue of location, it tends to attract some of the local and regular homeless. I remember one year sitting at noon mass, and a man went up to the altar to receive communion. It was evident he was homeless, due to his appearance and the fact that he was carrying all of his possessions on a backpack. He was unnaturally red-faced and seemed to be trembling due to what I conjecture to be alcoholism. He was shaking so badly, that he could not steadily recieve Our Lord, much less handle the chalice with the Precious Blood.The priest went out of his way to steady and to enable the man’s reception of the Sacrament, and the tenderness of such Divine Exchange and Love at the moment on the part of both shepherd and the little sheep, filled me with such awe. On another occasion, I was climbing the steps of St. Peter’s and simultaneously a man was coming out the front door. He had long blonde, graying, and wild hair and was dressed in clothing that probably had not been laundered for several months. He was clearly drunk for he approached me so closely that I could smell the fumes. He proclaimed he was an alcoholic and asked if I knew where the AA meeting was located at the parish. Having no idea, all I could do was recommend Jesus in the sanctuary. I told him Jesus loves when alcoholics come to mass for He is the one-step remedy. Another time a man sat next to me at mass and I speculate he was schizophrenic, particularly after he made mention of such. He was there primarily to escape the cold as many of the homeless do. For whatever reason when he approached Communion, he started to have an episode of loud behavior, and once again I was impressed with how the priest handled the situation with such great love. He calmed the man down, speaking to him gently at the altar, and the individual remained for the rest of the mass. He grinned with absolute toothless joy when it was time to ‘go in peace’. The drunken man with the long wild hair was in the local news a couple of years ago. He had been found dead, due to the excessive cold, and empty bottles were found with his lifeless body. He went on his last bender, alone, homeless, succumbing to the elements. I wish I could eradicate the homeless problem in Charlotte, for the wealth of our city alone could eliminate the unnecessary condition if you ask me. Why do I mention all of this? Christmas to me is the realization of the abject poverty and rejection welcoming Christ’s birth. The impoverished condition of man and the world was awaiting infant Jesus. Kingship and majesty in a sense established Himself in less than desirable conditions. Theology and apologetics did not motivate the saintly Mother Teresa, but an unquenchable thirst for the poorest of the poor, and God raised her up in His authentic love. To me,’ Merry Christmas’ and the spoken expression of such, is oftentimes the only gift for the homeless to give. And it is sincere.They possess far more than we could ever purchase much less learn in a lifetime. A couple years ago, the doors of St. Peter’s were papered with flyers with a beautiful image of Christ, carrying the quote, ” Who told you to buy all this stuff for my birthday.” We are going to uptown Charlotte this evening, to visit our friends and family of Christ. God bless.

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