15 Days Til Christmas

I checked the calendar, then checked again.

I counted twice.

1) 10th

2) 11th

3) 12th

4) 13th

5) 14th

6) 15th

7) 16th

8) 17th

9) 18th

10) 19th

11) 20th

12) 21st

13) 22nd

14) 23rd

15) 24th

Make that 3 times….

There are 15 days til Christmas, not counting today.

Today is here.  (No need to count it.)  Christmas is…Christmas! (No need to count it.)

I’ve 15 days….

My tree is not up.  My house is not clean. The gifts are not bought. Christmas cards are not sent.

I sing the carols.  And, I attend the parties.

But, my heart is not in it.  My mind doesn’t celebrate.  It’s a burden and a hassle – an intrusion…interruption…imposition….

Don’t get me wrong.  I know the Reason for the season.  It’s all about giving (I mean getting) and doing good to others (I mean getting all the good I can) and celebrating the KING of Creation (I mean the king of commerce) and family, food and fun (meaning self).

Lest you label me Grinch, let me explain my dilemma.

My neighbor is Kurdish. “It is our culture, you understand,” these are the words expressed to explain the fasts and celebrations experienced as they move through the year.

And, once, only once, three words were added: “It is our culture, you understand, like your Christmas.”

“Like your Christmas” – WHAT?  We celebrate Christmas because it’s who we are culturally?  The calendar rolls toward the end of the year and culture dictates CELEBRATE!?

Um…yeah.

Truly…what religious significance does Christmas have?

“Christ was born today” is what the song says.  Do I believe that? No. I don’t believe Jesus was born on December 25 any more than I believe Rudolph pulls Santa’s sleigh.

Do I think it’s good to celebrate Jesus’ birth? I do think it’s good for Christians to celebrate the coming of the Christ, the Messiah…Jesus.  It’s a celebration of Christianity that should spill over onto those around us.  But, it shouldn’t be a cultural celebration.  And, it shouldn’t be consumer driven.  And…it shouldn’t be in December. That confuses the message of who Jesus is and why Jesus was born (and when).

A cultural, consumer driven holiday – that’s what it’s become here in the US.  Perhaps…just perhaps that’s what it’s always been.

My neighbor created a maelstrom within me – who am I culturally – and who I am religiously (dare I say spiritually?) – that raises the question: What happens when who I am culturally conflicts with what I believe religiously and hold to be true spiritually?

For too long culture and religion have been intertwined where Christianity is concerned. Traditions – whether born in culture or religion decree what we do, when and how.  Some say our culture reflects our religion.  Perhaps that’s true.  As I look around me, I sincerely hope not.

Perhaps it’s time for this Christian to step away from Christmas and take a long hard look at what I do and why I do it.  And, see which (culture or religion) is the driving force behind what I celebrate and how (and why).

We Christians make so much of Christmas. A month of celebrations and a year of planning.  We say we’re celebrating the birthday of King Jesus. But, if that were the case wouldn’t all the $ spent go toward making His kingdom a reality for all?

I’m torn and confused. My culture and traditions are Christian.  My religion is, too. But, spiritually, I feel drawn to abandon all and simply embrace Jesus and the kingdom of God He spoke of.

Culturally, that’s a radical attitude.  Religiously, it’s considered heretical. Spiritually…ah…would that not be freeing?

Advertisements

Common Ground

I’m familiar with holidays, events and traditions that involve and include my nationality / culture / history / world view / religion / belief system / whatever it is that makes me…me.

I’m coming to see that those of others hold just as much weight as my own do. And, my choice not to celebrate in no way negates the importance or significance of that which others embrace and practice.

My neighbor is not of my culture.  We are…different.  One is not better than the other, nor more important. Both are valid.  Both are of value. Both have worth.

My neighbor’s world view is not shared by me – but that doesn’t make it wrong.  It just means it’s different.

Today, my neighbor brought over two huge plates of food, piled high and deliciously fragrant.  Today was a celebration…a holiday that she and her family kept…a part of her culture.

She chose to share it with us.

What a delicious sharing it was.

What was on the plates?  The only things I recognized were potatoes, green beans, golden raisins and chicken.  The rest were wonderful mysteries that delighted our taste buds and satisfied our appetites.

While her food filled our bellies, her generosity and outreach to us warmed our hearts.

My neighbor and I share little in common – but we have found common ground. She is a good cook and I am a good eater.