My mom has been dead 2 Christmas’ now.
She always had a day after Christmas party.
It was one of those things that I didn’t always look forward to, because I was exhausted from all the other holiday events. But I was always glad we had it once I got there.
We’d have simple foods like bagels and fruit and appetizers. And then we’d usually go see a movie in the afternoon.
It was a low key event that tapered the end of Christmas without the abrupt end to it all that would normally happen.
I thought a lot about the meaning of Christmas this year. I’m not really sure I ever asked myself that question before: What is the meaning of Christmas?
Like all good religious stories, the meaning of Christmas is many layered.
The top layer is the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ. That’s the one that is easy to get. It’s a very important layer. But it’s not the only layer.
The story of Jesus being born in a manger, in poverty, is no less astounding. Why would you take the son of God and have him born like that? That’s such a cool touch, when you think about it. If someone like that is the son of God what does it mean about how we treat all people?
What will the son of God look like in the second coming? Will we know him when we see him?
Mother Teresa is a big inspiration to me.
Jesus in His Most Distressing Disguise | Word On Fire
The secret to her infectious joy and boundless compassion was that in every person—every paralytic, every leper, every invalid, and every orphan—she recognized Jesus.
This belief was based on Matthew 25:35-40
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
This was the truth from the day Jesus was born.
I truly believe God likes to watch how we treat the most poor. I feel like it’s this interesting test He’s giving us to see if we’ve learned what he taught.
I always imagine Him not angry but, instead, shockingly amused like he’s watching a reality TV show.
“Not in my back yard” is such a thing that it has now become an acronym: NIMBY
Prisons, homeless shelters, you name it. If it threatens the property value of our home the teachings of Jesus go right out the window.
I often imagine people thinking that the teachings of Jesus are nice and all. But they aren’t meant for serious and important issues like the ones I’m dealing with.
So it’s really no wonder that we haven’t had the Second Coming yet. God has given America more money and resources than has ever been achieved before in the history of humanity and we still have:
- Countless people living under bridges.
- Kids living in cars.
- Healthcare that is too expensive.
- Education that puts people in debt the rest of their lives.
I just can’t stop thinking that He’s watching all this like we’d binge watch Jersey Shore or the Kardashians.
I imagine Him just throwing more and more money on America just to see what shocking thing we’ll do next.
And then He puts empty malls and abandoned houses everywhere in the middle of America and watches as politicians come up with endless reasons why it isn’t a good idea to put humans in them.
And the end of every episode, every week, is watching these people stream into church on Sunday morning for an hour. Then the credits role, “Tune in next week when we see rich Americans throw away endless food because their lawyers told them it’s too unsafe to give away.”
I imagine He just can’t turn that show off.
So the poverty angle of Christmas interests me a great deal.
But there is another aspect of Christmas that isn’t talked about as much. But is maybe equally as important.
It’s the community of it all.
I always loved the story of the 3 Wise Men, the little drummer boy, angels and shepherds. They all show up to see Jesus be born.
And they brought gold, frankincense and myrrh. That just seemed so cool to me. I still don’t know what frankincense and myrrh are but they sound REALLY fancy.
They traveled from the east a long distance to see this birth.
This is the magic I saw this week at Second Chance Village.
Yesterday, on Christmas Day, the Akron Jewish and Muslim community put on a HUGE dinner for the people living in tents in Second Chance Village.
On Christmas Eve a family of Asian decent came and put a massive dinner on for them that day.
The week before Christmas a group of very successful businessmen came into our facility to start building out what we need to electrify and heat our new community room.
The furnace is already in and the electric is going in this week.
This all was surrounded by countless others bringing food and clothing and hygiene supplies.
I have never in my life seen anything like it.
It was EXACTLY like all the wise men and angels and shepherds coming to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Shoot. We even had a kid named Timmy come by to bring homemade cookies.
Actually, the kids that participated in this week were all too many to count.
I imagine what Mary and Joseph must have felt like that night when all those people came to see Jesus. It’s an ocean of giving and love and hope and charity.
Overwhelming isn’t even the word for it.
I’m telling you. I experienced the birth of Jesus this week with the way you all came out in support of the homeless.
You get it.
You know what the birth of Jesus is all about. Even if you can’t describe it in words you get it.
It’s about love.
It’s about loving something you can’t understand and can’t even fully appreciate.
It’s just showing up because there is a force that feels like you should show up.
And now I see it everywhere I look.
- The new Star Wars movie is about coming together.
- Walking Dead (which I don’t even know why I can’t stop watching) is about coming together.
- The Grinch That Stole Christmas
- Christmas church service where many families only come to church once a year.
- Black Friday
- Christmas parties
I’m telling you, the story of community and coming together is everywhere. It’s like it’s shouting at me. Come together. Come together.
And in the case of Second Chance Village all these people came together because of the most poor in our community.
The gifts we get by giving help to the poor are greater than anything we ever can give to them.
Coming together and giving allows us all to rise up. It allows us to transcend the daily grind of things that probably aren’t all that important.
When we come together to help a common cause we all rise up just a little bit. We become a little greater. We become more like the image of God that He’s always wanted us to be.
Christmas is a powerful force that shows us the message. It’s a great universal story that causes us to act and reminds us of where we come from.
We are the creation of God. Jesus called us his brothers and sisters.
We are trying to learn the lessons He has taught.
We are reminded of them on Christmas Day. But the question is, what will we do the day after Christmas?
Have we learned the message well enough to keep coming together? Or do we just go back to our same habits?
I know for many of you the message of giving and coming together is a life long pursuit. I see it every single day at our charity.
There are many people that have found the path. They have found the enlightenment God has taught.
But there are others that still have yet to internalize it. They are the people that give and come together in the spirit of Christmas. They get it. But then they slip back.
These are the people for whom I’ve written this story. You are so close!
You feel the power of it all. It is the path God wants us to be on. Try to stay on it. It is the path to salvation for us all.
It is you that will save the world. It is you that will bring us together and solve all the problems of the world. Don’t give up. Your instincts are right.
Keep coming together. Keep giving. You are the hope of humanity.