Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas - A Time of Remembrance or a Festival of Fools

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:22,23

What are we doing people? I mean really, can’t we all just take a deep breath and stop. Stop with the over-the-top craziness that has turned this Holy Day into nothing short of a Festival of Fools? Gifts, wish lists, debt, doing, going, seeing, but where is the being? What happened to “Love thy neighbor” in what is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year”?

I know many of you are gracious in your giving to the needy, helping out at food shelters, partaking in toy drives, etc, etc, and thank you for your service to your community. For many of us though, that can be an after-thought to checking off the list and checking it twice - forget about if we’re being naughty or nice. Which reminds me, my great nephew Davis (one of the cutest and possibly smartest 3 year olds on the planet) proudly addressed Santa at a Christmas party the other day, “Thank you! I’m no longer on the naughty list!” I can’t imagine this precious boy being anything but innocent.

So for the most part, the Holy Day has turned into anything but sacred. I was watching the news on Wednesday morning as I was getting ready for my last day of work for the year, and they were doing a story on people waiting for hours for the NEW Air-Jordan sneakers that apparently had a limited supply released to the public. There was pushing and shoving and trampling of people all for a stupid pair of sneakers. Really people? Are you kidding me? They will be restocked and half-the-price in 2 weeks.

So here I sit Christmas Eve morning with yet MORE shopping left to do. My work schedule provides precious little time to think about gifts much-less go buy them. A lot of this falls to my lovely wife who is a black-belt in the sport anyway. Thank God she is so good at it because I need all the help I can get. She schooled me in it “the way of the hunter/gatherer” yesterday. I actually thought she was going to, as Caleb would say, “Spartan-kick” a man in one of those store-provided scooters-for-the-infirm at Target last night.

Here’s how that went down:

Ally was looking for a certain DVD to replace an old VHS model we had thrown out. The store clerk had a pile of people at his register and said he would get it from the storage room in a few minutes. So we shopped for other DVDs while we waited. Caleb and I wandered off so we were unaware of the storm cloud that was brewing. Ally was waiting patiently by the door to the stockroom when the clerk finally walked over and started to unlock the door. Out of nowhere a giant “ME-monster” rolled up on his 3 wheeled basket-scooter. It seems he was in desperate need of a DVD of the Gene Simmons (from KISS) MTV series Family Jewels.

The clerk told him that he would help him as soon as he was finished with Ally because “she has been waiting patiently for a really longtime. I just need to step in here and get hers off the shelf.” Unknown to the rest, this man was more important than all who were present. He proclaimed loudly and emphatically, “No! You will help me NOW!” and then proceeded to ram the clerk with his scooter pinning him with his back against the door. Apparently this man was unaware of the dangerous trek upon which he had just embarked because my wife also has a third-degree black-belt in the sport of removing the heads of bullies. It’s a specific martial art known only to certain sects in Motherdome.

Ally somehow garrisoned enough Christmas spirit to keep from killing this man on the spot. Instead she informed him, “No sir – you will wait your turn. As he said, I’ve been waiting for a long time, so back up the scooter and wait your turn!” The 3-wheeled bully was not immediately deterred. He ran right out onto the thin-ice and spoke directly to my wife. This confirmed to us his mental state had him about 12 cards shy of a full-deck.

As he backed up and re-rammed the clerk again(who was desperately trying to unlock the door and simultaneously search his hand-held device for the Gene Simmons DVD), the over-sized ninny-muggin told my wife to (and I quote) “Shut up and mind your own business – he’s going to help me first. You can wait!” All who were present truly witnessed a Christmas miracle right here. She responded calmly with “No. Back up your scooter and wait your turn.” However, sensing a YouTube moment was about to occur, other customers began to congregate to watch the drama unfold.

(Ally) “Tim! Tim!”

(Tim) “What?”

“Get a police officer – NOW!”

(Spectator) “Good for you! You’re being a lot more patient than I would be,” as if she was no stakeholder in the events.

Sidebar: The crime could literally be describe in a court-of-law as aggravated assault (assault with a weapon – the weapon being the scooter).

I looked over at Ally to see a crowd of people standing around a guy on a scooter. Thinking he was having some sort of medical issue, I ran to find anyone with a badge or walkie-talkie. I see Barney guarding the entrance. Really? Shouldn’t you have the EXIT covered? I informed him we had a “situation” and we needed his help.

He came over and took a couple of statements, then called for the manager who arrived in very short order. She sort of reminded me of Oprah between diets in looks and interviewing skills. She quickly assessed the situation and sent the man on his way even after we, a bystander, and a clerk corroborated what happened. Another clerk walked up and said, “We have trouble with him all the time. He’s always aggressive to customers and clerks alike.”

Einstein suddenly reappears on his scooter trying to ensure he gets his side of the story straight and on the record. Unfortunately for him, they were going to review the security tape. We left our contact information and went on our way. I have little doubt there will be absolutely NO consequences for his actions which is exactly why he continues this behavior. Next time we will certainly reconsider the “Spartan-kick” option (in Jesus name).

Back to the Holy Day

So what is the point of all the peripheral stuff that we call “celebration”? Have you considered the true Gift of God this Christmas? Have you considered the wonderful reality of the manger that led to the cross? Have you stopped to consider the absolute treacherous and difficult journey that were the lives of Joseph and Mary that were truly conduits for our salvation? What about Father God? Have you considered what He gave? When I think of my son Caleb I can’t help but be pierced to the core to think of “His only begotten Son.”

Have you considered Emmanuel – God with us. What a privilege. What an honor. What love. What a gift! God with us. Allow that to soak deep into your spirit and dwell there throughout the rest of this Holy Day season. Allow it to challenge your New Year resolution. Allow it to be a substantive force in your giving and receiving. Receive ye the Holy Spirit. Let those words impact your living and doing and being.

Remember the gift of eternal life and forget about the trouble and turmoil of a world warring against its sensibilities. Give them the gift of grace and let your light so shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven. I say let’s challenge everyone we know to make Christmas about Him again. Love to you all. Merry Christmas.