Do They Know It’s Christmas? Bah Humbug!

Golly, I don’t want to think about how old (read young) I was in 1984! That was the year a group of English and Irish recording stars put together the now classic Christmas hit, “Do They Know It’s Christmas” under the name Band Aid. Raise your hand if you remember that! The song has become a quintessential part of all Christmas play lists since then and as I’ve grown and matured (ahem) I have found myself mocking parts of it like the line, “There won’t be any snow in Africa this year.” Duh. It’s Africa! And the whole notion of the African peoples not knowing it is Christmas… do they really need to know that it is Christmas? What right do we have to impose our beliefs on them? And, what a relief… no Christmas cookies to bake, no letters to send, no packages to wrap, no fake merriment when what you really want is to get the heck out of the mall before you get bumped one more time by some frantic person for goodness sake (phew)…. And what about the singers themselves caroling about “saying a prayer,” singers like George Michael? Really? Endless rolling of eyes on my part.
I need to get over myself.
Seriously. I guess my major objection stems from an amazing ability I’ve acquired over the years, the ability to distance myself. Things happen to people on the other side of the world, but hey, they’re on the other side of the world, half a world away from me, and today is incredibly busy already. No time, can’t be bothered, I feel like the rabbit in Alice In Wonderland. I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!
Really, aren’t the musicians just pulling on our heartstrings a little too much? Now don’t get me wrong! I love the sentimental! I’m all for a sappy commercial or animal movie. I can’t make it through most media these days without shedding some number of tears. An acquaintance at church told me the other day that God saves each tear as a precious jewel. I countered that if that was true than I am single-handedly preparing the world for the next flood.
And here we are with Christmas breathing down our necks. Christmas, the single most sentimental holiday of them all. From the Scrooge and Grinch stories where someone’s heart grows 3 sizes in a night to the silent baby in the warm, candle-lit stable as the ultimate in peace and comfort, from paltry Charlie Brown Christmas trees to misfit reindeer and toys… our hearts are pulled in 100 different directions. But there is really nothing sentimental about people starving, here or in Africa. This has been a big lesson for me this year as I have had the privilege of working with Compassion Tea. The stories I have shared and have yet to share happen to real people… people with faces and names and problems that are seemingly insurmountable. All my Compassion Tea compatriots tell me I have to go to Africa, that doing so will change my life. I have no doubt they are correct and I look forward to the time when I can go. However, I already feel changed.
It really has a lot to do with that not so silent night when a teenage mom and her fiancée and a rag tag group of misfit shepherds welcomed a little, helpless baby into the world… a baby who had left God-head behind to take on destructible flesh, to experience as a man the brokenness of worldly existence, and to offer the hope of not mere survival but redemption and reconciliation. As much as we try to sugar-coat Christ’s arrival on earth, it is at best fantastic, even slightly, absurdly illogical. But it is love… sacrificial love in its purest form. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that whosoever believes in Him may have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
I get glimpses of the reality and strength of this love and when I do it brings me to my knees it is so crippling in its intensity. God took compassion on us. He shared His son with us with the promise of renewing our relationship with our Papa God.
Sharing. That seems to me to be the tag word of the season – sentimental or not. Sharing Christ, sharing compassion, sharing tea, sharing relief. At the heart of the Band Aid song is a compassion for someone else and that is really the point, sharing hope for survival. Amazingly, that’s exactly what God did for us by sending Jesus. So, with half a box of Kleenex by my side, I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

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