Last week, while down in KL for a short trip, and then this week around Penang, I have heard Christmas carols, hymns, and songs being played in the malls and grocery stores. There is no doubt that we are in the “Christmas season.”
Christmas has become more than merely a day on the calendar; it’s a season. In fact, in many churches Christmas is celebrated over a four-week period called Advent. Advent is a celebration of sharing and giving by Christians in recognition of God’s gift to us in the form of Jesus coming to earth. Unfortunately, in western society this celebration of giving has become the focus of the season with the greatest emphasis being on giving and receiving presents.
History does not actually record the date of Jesus’s birth. Most historians believe that the choice of 25 December was actually in response to a pagan holiday celebrated in the Roman culture. The early church did not want to participate in the holiday, so they altered their focus to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Let us do the same as the early Christian church by not getting so wrapped up (literally!) in the commercialization of Christmas. This season let us not allow the focus to just be on the presents. Instead, let’s focus on the sacrifice and giving we see in Jesus’s willingness to come down to earth as a baby. That spirit of selfless sacrifice and immeasurable generosity can permeate our community as we demonstrate our willingness to give to those around us with sacrificial and servant hearts. Rather than giving presents, we can choose to give of ourselves, our time, and our efforts. Not only during the month of December, but all year long we can celebrate the spirit of the season by being a community that is characterized by giving and serving one another. Regardless of our individual faith and our cultural backgrounds, this is something we can all aspire to do.
If we choose to focus on the giving of ourselves in sacrificial ways, and with a heart to serve, we will no doubt be a “radical” community.