an arms race of sorts. The feast has lost much of it's religious significance because we have allowed it to be hijacked and our wallets held for ransom. This is one of those man-made disasters that I often ask you to pray about.
Who is harmed the most by this? The poor? The rich? The middle? All of us, that's who. My children, your children, your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Believers, unbelievers. The entire culture, and especially the culture of Christendom. This year is the year I have decided to stop the insanity and pray with thanks that the Lord came to deliver us from the nonsense of off-the-rails rampant consumerism. I think my wife has noticed. My kids were clued in last year. And don't get me wrong. We still decorate and exchange gifts. But Black Friday and unobtainable wish lists? Fagetaboutit!
Want to know what I think about Madison Avenue's version of Christmas? To hell with it. This year, let's not just put Christ back into Christmas. We need to go much, much, further than that. This year, and for the rest of our lives, let's put the Mass back in Christmass.
We can decide, you know. We have God given free will to thank for this ability. I only pray for the fortitude to celebrate this holiday as it should be celebrated. Not as an orgy to the god of material stuff, but as a recognition that God came into the world poor, lived poor, and died poor. And by doing so, he gained all. And for those of us who believe in Him, He'll make us just like Himself. Sons and Daughters of God. That is really the only present worth anything, in the long-run. And eternity is a mighty long time, but it just might come calling tomorrow. Like in Dickens's Christmas tale.
Yep, just another one of the paradoxes of Christianity. Live long and prosper? That might be a Vulcan tenet, but it isn't in the New Testament. God is with us, and as a human, the God-man came from the wrong side of the tracks, see? So here is the challenge: open your heart and let Him in, and all of his fellows like Him. Peace on earth and good will to men.
So today, and the rest of this week until the Feast of the Nativity, I'll be praying this prayer from the desert and asking the Word Incarnate for the strength to die to my self and love my neighbor as I love myself instead. Because I can't afford a present for everybody, but I can say a prayer. One straight from the desert of my own self-righteous, self-reliant, and self-important, heart. Know your weakness.
My non-Christian friend Sun Tzu says,
If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.
I have found the enemy, and he is me. Lord Help!
A Prayer From the Desert
Lord Jesus Christ, whose will all things obey:
pardon what I have done and grant that I,
a sinner, may sin no more.
I believe that though I do not deserve it,
you can cleanse me from all my sins.
Lord, I know that man looks upon the face,
but you see the heart.
Send your spirit into my inmost being,
to take possession of my soul and body.
Without you I cannot be saved;
with you to protect me, I long for your salvation.
And now I ask you for your salvation.
And now I ask you for wisdom,
your great goodness to help and defend me.
Guide my heart, almighty God,
that I may remember your presence day and night.
Watch this to find out what Christmas is all about. And a friend of mine clued me into this too: watch Linus's hands at :44 seconds when he says "a Savior is born." Do you see what I see?