Greetings, Boulder City! Merry Christmas!
This morning dawns on one of the most holy days in the Christian year. We have been planning and preparing for this day for weeks, if not longer, longing to pull off the perfect Norman Rockwell portrait of Christmas.
Christmas parties, marathon shopping and holiday concerts have made this time of year busy to the point of overwhelming. According to the National Retail Federation, it is estimated that Americans will spend more than $600 billion this year on Christmas alone. We have been convinced by national retailers and their marketing gurus that what is important at Christmas is spending, and spending a lot. I’m not sure when the retail industry hijacked Christmas, but it is clear they have.
Christmas is supposed to be a time when Christians remember the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God, who was born of a virgin girl and came and lived among us. The weeks leading to Christmas are to be spent remembering the biblical lessons about an angel who appeared to a young girl named Mary and her willingness to be God’s servant in this most holy of assignments.
Next we remember her fiancé, Joseph, and his reluctance to take this pregnant girl as his wife, that is, until an angelic visitor changes his mind. They embark on a journey to Joseph’s homeland for the imposed census and find themselves ready to give birth and would have been left with no place to stay had it not been for the generosity of a stranger.
God’s son was born in a smelly, dirty, humble stable, surrounded by animals. It is a lesson to us that God came to this earth for everyone, not just the wealthy, educated or those who somehow deserve it. Jesus was born in this modest setting as an encouragement for all of us.
What makes Christmas special for everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike, is the love, generosity and goodwill that accompanies this season. This is the one time of year when we go out of our way to be a little nicer. It’s like all of a sudden the music changes (literally) and we show compassion to others.
What is it about Christmas that changes how we behave? It is the one time of year when we are intentional about kindness, when we send cards to people across the country and meet with friends for parties. We bake treats and share them at our office. We spend hours buying the perfect gift for family and friends. Why do we do this? What is it about Christmas?
It’s almost like you can feel love everywhere you go. Even the music of the season encourages us to be kind. At Christmastime we tend to give more of our time and our financial resources to those who have less.
I noticed a new local group has started a Facebook page called “Free in BC and Community Aid.” It began out of a need that Boulder City folks on Facebook saw to help people in our town. You can post if you have something to give away and you can post if you have a need. The amazing thing is the number of posts where people share what their need is and dozens of caring Boulder City folks share what they have, giving to people they don’t even know.
It is no coincidence that this group started in December. This is what Christmas is about: Love. Love shown to our neighbors because that is what we are all called to do.
What if we showed this same love year-round and evolved into a Christmas society — a society where we were kind to one another 12 months a year, not just one? What if we practiced these random acts of kindness and put others’ needs ahead of our own, not just in December but in July also?
Boulder City is the most amazing town I have ever lived in. I have felt more kindness here than anywhere else I have lived and I feel it especially this Christmas season.
Let’s step away from the material trappings of the season and remember what Christmas is really about, the love of God, stepping into humanity and living among us. A God who loves each of us so much that he sacrificed his son so that we might live forever.
Today as you spend the day with your family and friends, remember your creator and the source of the love you have felt this season: Jesus Christ, the son of God.
The Rev. Sandy Johnson leads Boulder City United Methodist Fellowship.