Keeping Christmas - from the blog Preventing Grace

Posted by Anne Kennedy on 12/09/2014

Keeping Christmas

I happened to read a very interesting article floating around facebook last week about the parents of three little boys who just suddenly had enough and canceled Christmas. As we were in the middle of a school day, I took the opportunity to read it out to the children, causing a stunned horror to descend over the gathered throng, which is what all my children in one room feels like. And then I sent it to Matt. “It’s such a brilliant idea” we agreed together, “what clever and wonderful parents.”

Of course, I mumbled, as I left the room, it’s possible to do a lot of things before you have to invoke the nuclear option. If time outs weren’t working and the children had no respect for anyone….you know, you could carry through on some smaller things before you are forced to carry through on this big big thing. Still though, better to finally carry through.

Anyway, and the real tragedy is that my internet is down and so I can’t get to the article to quote it or link it….gosh. I probably won’t even be able to post this. My memory is faulty but I have this vague idea that the three boys would be doing acts of service, instead of celebrating Christmas. This was going to be very good, said one of the boys, because, he went on humbly, “The reason for the season is giving,”

Hmmm. Yeah. Not so much, I thought to myself carrying on with my life. Here’s the thing, and it’s what’s essentially wrong with the blighted Christmas Carol, it’s what’s wrong with every kind of civic pagan religion in which we have steeped and stewed for nigh on a hundred years now–You Don’t Have Anything to Give. It’s not about your giving, it’s not about keeping Christmas in your heart the whole year through. The great tragic coopting of the celebrating of the Incarnation, in which we celebrate that we were so far gone, that we had nothing to offer, that we were perishing, but that God himself had mercy on us and came to rescue us, that he gave his own life as a gift that we can never, and this is the kicker, repay, to make it about us and the gifts that we give and the cheerfulness that we have, is another perfectly satanic subversion. It’s as ironically foul as Planned Parenthood’s black lives matter hashtag farce. And we all trot along, Christian and pagan together, feeling happy about how good we are.

No, the reason for the season is not giving. Should we give? Yes. Should we have compassion and mercy? Yes. But really only if we have fallen on our faces to admit how lost and evil we are, how we have nothing if we don’t have Jesus. Whom have I in heaven but you? We should say. And then, when we’ve looked at Jesus and accepted him, taken him, been made alive in him, acknowledging that the gift of himself to us is a gift that we cannot reciprocate, but out of pure and abundant gratitude for that gift, then we may talk about our own giving and our own Christmas cheer. I think that’s what so lovely about a room full of presents for a lot of snot nose undeserving children. They didn’t do one single solitary thing to merit any of it. Nothing. It’s just that as their parents, or hangers on who love them, we just want to give, we want to see them delighted. That is a tiny taste of God’s joy in sending his Son to save us, a love so lavish, so over the top, so extravagant that the recipient is blown away. My soul, one might say, proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior. If our giving doesn’t flow out of God’s first gift than we are just damning ourselves, nailing ourselves to the wind.

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