Tag Archives: Christmas

The Season Is About The Children

As I’ve said in the past, I’ve struggled in recent years with the Christmas season. And I’m making an effort to stay positive this year. This past Sunday I had a beautiful glimpse of what I think the season is about, or should be more about if anything.

After Thanksgiving, we had the chance to go to church with some dear friends of ours whom we lived with in Nashville who now live in Iowa. On the first Sunday of Advent they had their three children dedicated at the church they attend. They have three wonderful, beautiful free-spirited little ones whom they love.

I think typically most of the kids our in the nursery during the service, but that day they had their three kids and we had our daughter all in the service. As you can imagine they didn’t sit still and silent the whole time. During the singing, the lighting of the advent candle, the children s sermon and more, the kids wandered around and explored, smiled, said “hi” to the person behind us and grunted in frustration at times. My initial instinct was concern for being polite and respectful of those around us and making sure my daughter kept quite and out of the way.

Fortunately, the Christmas singing set me straight. I don’t know what song it was but some line about baby Jesus reminded me that we are celebrating a birth, we are celebrating a child, hope for humanity comes to us packaged in a whiney, messy, crying, smelly, wandering, giggling, antsy, tired, noisy, lovely little child.

And I was able to sit back and let the kids enjoy themselves. I think God must have smiled and cried a little as She* watched that scene unfold in Bethlehem 2000 some years ago. It brought a tear to my eye that day as I watched the kids run around, in many ways my hope for humanity is tied up in their lives.

I don’t mean that as an encouragement to shower kids with presents or take frequent trips to see Santa in the mall. I think instead we need to be reminded that what we celebrate this season is that the hope of humanity came through a child, and it is carried on through us (children who have grown to love our neighbors and raise the next generation of children to do the same). Remember, this season is about the children.

*An explanation of why I’m using female pronouns for God.

“Without being lead like a child”

I met a homeless man the other night who really touched me and challenged my thinking. I don’t walk around downtown much in the evening, but last night we did and ran into a number of folks asking for money on the streets. It was quite cold last night, and I hope they were able to sleep well at some point.
Anyways, after giving away all the cash I had in my pocket we ran into yet another gentleman and we stopped to chat with him. His words stuck in my mind, I can’t remember word for word but he said:

“I just want to have some fun, like everybody else.”
“…something to put my mind at ease; without being too specific.”
“…without being lead like a child.”

Have you ever thought about the message it sends to a person when you, based solely on your impression of them, treat them as unable to care for themselves? What does it do to an adult’s self-esteem when, at a difficult time in their life, they are continually being “lead like a child” to meet their needs?
I do understand that people have a true concern that giving money to a person on the street might end up supporting thier drug or alcohol habits. I’m not advocating support of those activities. A wise women once told me, “If I was out on the street and down on my luck, I might want to have a drink too.”

I almost feel like it becomes like Jesus with the women caught in adultery. “Let he who is without sin throw the first stone.” Here it is: Let the one who has never spent their money unwisely, be allowed to never give any of it away.

This holiday season I’d like to encourage you to give the gift of mutual respect to the people you encounter on the street. Get a large amount of $5 bills (or $20). Write a note, a note to yourself and others about being a wise steward of the money you spend and not to waste it on unnecessaries when so many in the world are in need. Write that personal note and make copies of it. Get some envelopes and put one note and one $5 Bill in each. Put a bunch of those envelopes in your wallet. Now, anytime you or anyone who asks you is in need of some money, give them (or you) an envelope and remember to read the note before deciding to spend the money.

If someone chooses to by alcohol with that $5, it was their choice. If someone chooses to by a latte at Starbuck’s with that $5, it was their choice also.

Christmas is Not Your Birthday

Every year the holiday season comes around and I quietly cry to myself about how terribly consumeristic and self-centered it all seems to be. I’ll post something here and there, but mostly I worry about ruining people’s mood and being a pessimist.

Well, this holiday season I’m going to try and talk about some of this and point out some alternative options for the Holiday’s that you might want to consider.

Today, I thought you should check out CoolPeopleCare and their new “Christmas is Not Your Birthday” Campaign. Sign up for their email and take the five minutes a day it takes to read it and respond.

No Easter outrage?

It’s over a week since the Easter holiday, so I feel safe venturing some critiques about it. My friend Bryan pointed out that there hasn’t been much outrage around Easter about the bunny and eggs.
During Christmas there was so much outrage at the idea of calling the evergreens people where buying “Holiday Trees.” When my mom was growing up they had a Hanukkah Bush. My family had decorations for Christmas and Hanukkah (as well as a strange assortment of other family ornaments). Mindy and I have not had a tree in our living room since we’ve been married, and yet I don’t think we missed out on anything essential concerning the birth of Jesus. Celebrating the birth of Jesus is a good thing, but his birth is not what is central or pinnacle to the Christian faith; it’s his resurrection.
I wonder then, where is the outrage at Jesus’ resurrection being taken over by a giant bunny that hands kids pastel eggs full of candy? If you ask me, that’s what people should be upset about. I think it’s probably because nobody’s trying to trump the word “Easter.” Maybe they’d be bothered if someone decleared it the Buddha Bunny? Or what about just “The Bunny” leaving “Easter” out all together?

My point in saying all that is not to incite outrage over the Easter bunny or to start a boycott of pastel eggs. I think I’m just bothered by the lack of consistency and focus on such unimportant things. Let other’s call the evergreens what they want, maybe you should be ditching the Easter bunny altogether. Probably we should be spending a little more time trying to explain why some old guy dying and then rising from the dead is so important to our children. Believe me, you’ll have your work cut out for you.

Podcasting in the works

After a confusing hiatus from podcasting (or properly posting our podcast), we have an official show in the works.  I, Ariah, will be joined by my brilliant and funny co-host Zach Swee for what we hope will be a regular weekly podcast.

We are open to having the podcast cover a wide range of topics from technology to faith.  I hope that it will be entertaining for everyone that listens and also informative.  Right now I think we are blessed to have at least 1 known subscriber (made props to Scotty).  We hope that increases in the next couple weeks.

For now since you are one of the few who are getting the inside scoop, we could use your help.  We need a name for our podcast.  Zach mentioned one in a previous podcast, but we’d like to hear if you have any brilliant ideas.  We also need some input on our theme music.  Let us know if it’s good or ridiculous.

We leave you with a bonus podcast, this should hold you over till our next official one tomorrow:

Bonus podcast

The 8th Night of Hanukkah

This Festival of Lights has come and gone without me lighting the Menorah even once. Being all by my Jewish self has caused my desire for hording candles to overcome tradition. I guess I should bring out the Jew in me and have a small fire in my living room tonight.

So, I caught wind of a handful of email forwards before the holidays; The “Taking the Christ out of Christmas” type stuff. I didn’t pay much attention to it all, at least not before Christmas had come and gone. Now, I’d like to speak my mind on a little of it. Here I am, very much Jewish and also Christian, having celebrated and planning on continuing to celebrate BOTH Christmas AND Hanukkah. I don’t much care whether all the hype during this season started because of Christmas, Hanukkah, or Saturnalia we all want to enjoy the season now, and we should have every right to; ALL of us.
And Christians of all people should know enough to be at least a little respectful of others. If I want to call the tree I stick in my living room a Hanukkah Bush, you really shouldn’t feel threatened, nor threaten me in return.

Nashville Homeless Memorial and Christmas

A friend of mine and I went to the Nashville Homeless Memorial on Saturday morning. It’s a chance for folks to come together and remember and honor those who have died in the past year.

According to a “Homeless Count” organized by the Department of Social Services on March 24, 2004 there were a minimum of 1,805 homeless individuals. This count only included those who were actually physically seen and counted and did not include camps that were not found or the hundreds who may be staying with acquaintances, friends, or in motels. [TIMC]

There where about 20+ names read and a few stories told. A couple people read some poems, shared some thoughts, and did a little spoken word. It was neat to be a part of the people gathered, there but troubling at the same time.
Are Christians so naive as to not connect HOMELESS and JESUS? I’ve mentioned this before, but it keeps bothering me. At some point down the road we are going to need to make a shift in our way of thinking. WE WORSHIP A MAN WHO WAS HOMELESS! Why do we not the treat the homeless we encounter around us with the same level of dignity?
I want to be careful here though, because I don’t want people going around saying, that because Jesus was a man we should treat men with more dignity or anything crazy like that. I do think though that there is something terribly important to recognize about the fact that Jesus, while preaching the Kingdom, did not have a job, nor a home. What do you think of that?