Image Credit: "Wooden Nativity" by Flickr user Brad Folkens.

By the Rev. Pat Simpson | Seattle District Superintendent

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]On the radio this morning I heard a Jewish father and a Muslim mother talk about guiding their two families through the materialism of the glitzy holiday shopping season. Both said they tell the story of Jesus’ birth to their children, while setting it in the context of their own beliefs. They want to make sure their kids know the real meaning of the holiday for Christians, so easily obscured by tales of Santa and presents.

It was touching to hear struggles similar to the ones we face: trying to observe Advent with Silent Night already in the air; keeping Santa in his place; entering into the wonder of the Nativity amidst last-shopping-day hype. It’s a countercultural way of life we have chosen.

Meanwhile, the advertising department at Macy’s is using the language of faith as its theme:  “A Million Reasons to Believe.” There’s a sweet reference to children believing in Santa, but the million items in Macy’s inventory are clearly the main point. Shall we join together and rant about them stealing our words?

Good Christian folk, I say it’s not worth the trouble.

[pull_quote_right]We can take this as good news. The best consumer psychology money can buy has determined there is a hunger to believe all over this land![/pull_quote_right]We can take this as good news. The best consumer psychology money can buy has determined there is a hunger to believe all over this land! It can be assuaged for a time by things bought and opened on Christmas, especially if the giving and receiving are wrapped in the love of family and friends. But nothing in the gift inventory – the cleverest gadget, the sweetest perfume, the softest sweater, the coolest toy – none of it can ultimately satisfy the heart’s hunger for divine love.

So let us reach out with warmth to those Christmas & Easter people who show up Wednesday evening. Let us give a listening ear to the sad person in a corner at the party, and a visit to a lonely neighbor. Let us tell the children of Mary and Joseph, shepherds and angels, and foreigners visiting the newborn babe. Let us boldly name him Prince of Peace and Savior of the Nations.

Then, building on all that Christmas storytelling practice, let’s keep on telling stories of what God has done for us.  In January and June we will have words of gratitude to share. In March and September we can offer the Bread of Life to hungry spirits. In May and October we can invite the lonely into a circle of faith and friendship.

We are the messengers God sends to proclaim an outbreak of peace, justice and love into our world. Be the Christmas angels for a world hungry to believe!

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