Saturday Night Live’s “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy” once hilariously said, “If the Vikings were around today, they would probably be amazed at how much glow-in-the-dark stuff we have, and how we take so much of it for granted.”
If you stop to think about it, I think other generations would be amazed at how much stuff in general that we Americans have and how much we take it for granted.
From toy catalogues to today’s Amazon wish lists, this glut of stuff on which the American dream is built is especially noticeable at Christmas. This notion of materialism runs exactly against the grain of the Christmas story and real meaning of Christmas.
Think about the fact that God chose Mary, who was not rich, to bear the Son of God. Think about the fact that there was no room for Joseph, Mary and Jesus at the Inn in Bethlehem (Luke 2:4-7). Think about the fact that angels proclaimed the first Noel to humble shepherds, not rich emperors in Rome.
All throughout the New Testament, we see that Christ Jesus and His followers had compassion and concern for the poor (Matt. 5, 19:21; Gal. 2:10). It was the rich and the self-righteous who drew the Savior’s scorn.
In American Christianity, contrary to Christ, we often times neglect the poor and favor the rich. Sometimes we do this consciously, sometimes without awareness.
For some of us stuck in this mold of materialism, what we need is an Ebenezer-Scrooge-like overnight awakening to open our eyes. For others, what we more need are daily, subtle reminders that we are called to remember the poor and to show love.
Christmastime is the perfect opportunity to give more than you typically do. Christmas is a time to share with others from what God has given you. This can come in the form of giving to your church, to charities but also to individuals. Ask God to show you how to give more and do more. For when we give, our heavenly Father sees it and is pleased.
If, by God’s grace, each of us do more to remember the poor this Christmas, the world will be amazed. They will be amazed, not by how much glow-in-the-dark stuff we have, but how the Light of Christ shines so bright in the darkness.