Wednesday, December 26, 2007

ALTERNATIVE CELEBRATION.

Anyone who has read this blog or anyone with whom I have had any form of meaningful dialogue in the month of December knows of my disenchantment with the popular American "celebration of Christmas." My purpose is not to detract from the Messiah celebration event but rather consider the most appropriate and right way to celebrate the coming of God to earth in the form of man. What would Jesus have us do to celebrate his life on earth?

I have tried to maintain the Brueggemannian concept of criticizing the current consciousness but only while energizing toward an alternative consciousness. I would contend that is what Jesus did. He came as a better way; the right way. He challenged the popular religious practice by submerging the sacred (himself) with the secular. He bridged the chasm between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of earth. He was an alternative consciousness. What then, is an alternative way to celebrate the life of Jesus that adheres to the kingdom of God rather than the earthly empire of consumption?

It is problematic to boycott spending and consumption just for the sake of making a statement or raising awareness. What if, however, we pursue the use of our monetary resource in a different manner? To advance beyond the conceptual I am offering some ideas through which Sarah and I have celebrated mostly this year with some experimentation last year:

+ For Kyla's babysitters we purchased beaded necklaces and bracelets through Bead for Life. For every $1.00 spent, $.93 goes directly to a female in Uganda, Africa who hand crafts and paints the items made from recycled paper. Their income then becomes food, medicine, and school fees to aid in the eradication of poverty.

+ For Sarah, Kyla and I gave to Samirtan's Purse in order to feed hungry babies in other countries. The total giving to this program feeds 22 babies for one week. We also gave to help rescue a child from slavery as a child soldier, menial laboror, and other grossly exploitive bondage.

+ We were actively engaged in the food pantry donation projects in Knox and Morrow counties.

+ From our parents we asked that they use the amount of money that they would normally spend on us and seek to give to others and/or donate money to our adoption savings account, enabling us to continue our process for international adoption.

A friend challenged me in a previous post to "prove it" - to prove a type of giving that does not benefit ourselves. I don't know that I necessarily proved anything. My intention is not to say "look what I did" or "I proved it" but rather to offer a way to celebrate the birth of Jesus that glorifies Him and His Kingdom. I trust that Jesus will be the one to prove his love to be real for those effected by our giving. We have not arrived at that fullness of doing what could be done for others or being who we should be for others. There may be better and more effective ways to engange the brokenness of life with people as Jesus did. We look forward to hearing your giving experiences, ideas, and perspectives.

4 comments:

-Steb- said...

I think that your thoughts in this area are right on my friend..

My thought is that is the original reason for gift giving during Christmas is to symbolize, remember and, teach about the greatest gift that was giving therefore we need not abandone the pratice completely. But something definately must be done!!!!!

However instead of giving material, or financial gifts, I decided that I want to give something that is far more valuable, my time and my energy in relationships.

For example this year I gave my 9 year old cousin a coupon good for 1 colaborated building project. During the coming year we will plan and build something of his choosing. This way during this next year I would have a chance to spend several days with him and even teach him some practical carpentary skills.

For my sister I gave her a coupon for a hang out day during this next yeat in which I will drive her down to the creation museum to spend the day with her.

And last year I gave my mom a few "project coupons". Basically she could assign a few extra major projects around the house that I would do for her instead of watching a movie or hanging out with my friends.

Just some thoughts on some alternative gifts that can still fulfill the original purpose behind this Christmas practice.

Chris said...

I appreciate those alternative ideas and thinking. I believe you're right...this is an area in which the church just wholeheartedly embraces the culture (materialism) without much thought of what a Kingdom-of-God distinctness might look like.

Watching my kids open gift after gift after gift at the family 'celebration' got to be somewhat unpleasant. We'll definitely be rethinking the process from this point on.

joe said...

looks good travis. i return greetings to you.

Michael Rodden said...

There are a lot of good thoughts put into practice here, Mr. Keller.

I hope that I can find a woman who shares these same kinds of desires from the heart of God in everyday living, 365.

Please pray for me about that, would you?

Thank you for sharing.

Matthew 5:38-48, NASB

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone want to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only you brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."