It's the second week of advent and Christmas is approaching. This is good. For the light of the world…. the gift that transcends all material gifts… the one that does not decay, but gives and sustains life, is coming. This is good news. For all people.
Two tides meet in the vortex of our lives this time of year. The worldly tide of “the season”, sees Christmas as an opportunity for profit and accumulation of worldly possessions. It advances on the shorelines of our lives with a force that leaves us washed out and less than we were before. It's a destructive tide with a wave-upon-wave assault that takes no prisoners and feeds us a dream that does not last or exist in any real sense. This worldly tide is marked by decay and it forces upon us all sorts of wants and “alleged” needs that promise fulfillment but deliver emptiness of soul. This tide suggests that we can fill the God shaped longing within us with material things. The great tragedy for humans is that we cannot see the emptiness of this tide. But there is hope in the other tide.
The other tide is one not of this world….literally.
The other tide, like light, exposes the tide of “the season” for what it is: empty and hollow. This other tide washes us clean from the allure of the empty tide and gives us a new hope. This tide has the power to turn us toward a dream of real fulfillment. This tide brings the gift of God himself along with the full force of his love. It offers to envelop us into a new adventure and it will make you tremble in fear until you realize the transformative goodness the current brings. This tide promises to reorient your shoreline in the best possible way with its sheer power. It is so powerful that it comes wrapped in the frailty of human skin, as a baby, vulnerable and needy and above all, ultimately subversive.
If you've ever been on a boat that has a keel deep in the water, you will know the danger of riding on the ridge of two powerful tides. The currents collide and cause whirlpools and uncontrollable situations for the ship. It can bring you down.
Maybe there is a lesson here for us as we find ourselves met by two tides this Christmas? Perhaps it's best that we stick to the one that offers us more than the hollow consumerism that leaves us empty.
Christmas is the time of year that can make people do strange things. Millions living in the affluent West go into unmanageable debt, acquire material things they do not need, and practice a form of gluttony that would give great Kings of Old indigestion. Sadly, all of this strangely happens in front of the majority of human beings in the world which live below the poverty line. They must stand in utter bewilderment at the excess living demonstrated before their difficult circumstances of unmet living expenses, malnourishment, and strife.
…Christmas can and should be a time that is different, If any remnant of the original story of Christmas remains. I declare it does.
This Friday, our church community is conspiring to make a difference in our neighbourhoods by hosting a dessert evening and silent auction called Out of the Cold. All proceeds go directly to the charities listed. This is a fantastic way to be part of a great subversion in our culture that was instigated at the first Christmas when the world met its saviour. I encourage you to come and be part of a story that can change the world and you along with it.
I have personally donated a 400$ family photography session to the cause.
Here is the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Out-of-the-Cold/551114624903074
If you haven’t seen this, please go and see this. this will make you think more about stuff. It flows nicely out of the last post on consumerism.
From Eugene Peterson’s, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places...
“In our present culture all of us find that we are studied, named, and treated as functions and things. “Consumer” is the catch-all term for the way we are viewed. From an early age we are looked upon as individuals who can buy or perform or use. Advertisers begin targeting us in those terms form the moment we are able to choose a breakfast cereal.
For those of us who are reared in North American culture, it is inevitable that we should unconsciously acquire this way of looking at everyone we meet. other people are potential buyers for what I am selling, students for what I am teaching, recruits for what I am doing, voters for what I am proposing, resources for what I am building or making, clients for the services I am offering. Or, to reverse the elements, I identify myself as the potential buyer, student, recruit, resource, client, and so on. But it is consumerism ether way.
I have no complaint about this at one level. I need things, other people offer what I need; I am happy to pay for and take advantage of what is offered whether it is food, clothing, information, medical and legal help, leadership in a cause that is dear to my heart, advocacy in matters of justice, or victim-rights that I care about. I’m quite happy to be a consumer in this capitalist economy where there is so much to consume.
Except. Except that I don’t want to be just a consumer. I don’t even want to be predominantly a consumer. To be reduced to a consumer is to leave out most of what I am, of what makes me me. To be treated as a consumer is to be reduced to being used by another or reduced to a product for someone else’s use. It makes little difference whether the using is in a generous or selfish cause, it is reduction. Widespread consumerism results in extensive depersonalization. And every time depersonalization moves in, life leaks out.”