The prophetic mystery of a helpless child, entering the world through the womb of a poor, unwed, teenager from a backwoods town, and placed in a feeding trough amidst the sounds and smells of a first century barn is nothing less than God’s astounding expression of solidarity with the poor. God stepped from his glory into the glorious humility of a child born in poverty. In Scott Bessenecker’s words, “When God voted with his birth, he voted for the poor.”
IBISWorld is forecasting that Americans will spend $69.2 billion on Christmas this year.
Something doesn’t add up here. There’s very little connection between Jesus’ birth and the way many of us celebrate Christmas. In fact, I would submit to you that the way we celebrate Christmas is an affront to God-born-in-a-manger.
I am inviting you to do something subversive this Christmas, to conspire with me in undermining a tradition that has become so embedded in our culture that my invitation may be considered unAmerican or “Grinchy” or just plain ol’ out of touch with reality. The invitation? Spend a little less this year and give some of the money you didn’t spend to people who need help. Do it as a family. Teach your kids to celebrate in a way that honors the humble nature of the nativity.
You know the generous act of Jesus, that although he was rich, for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. This is the story of Christmas. And when it comes to righteousness, we are all equally impoverished. The outrageous wealth of God’s righteousness has been offered to those who could not afford to buy it. The riches of a restored relationship with God and one another is freely offered in Christ to those who do not deserve it.
Let’s conspire to celebrate Christmas this year in a way that resonates with the heart of our God who stooped down that we might be lifted up. Let’s redirect some of that $69.2 billion toward the marginalized, ostracized and victimized. When God voted with his birth, he voted for the poor. How will you vote this year?
The Rev. Peter Little of Community Presbyterian Church can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.