The gifts have been given, the songs have been sung, and the feast has been consumed. What did it all mean? Was there any Christmas moment in Christmas? Was there any vision of Emmanuel, of God with us?
I think my Christmas moment came on a stress-filled frantic one-day shopping excursion at a local mall. The mall was packed with multiple thousands of people. So many people in so small a place can make one a bit edgy, certainly can overwhelm the senses and cause one to emotionally shut down. I was becoming cynical and beginning to slump downward into the notion that we human beings are all insane, stuck hopelessly in a mindless materialistic game of consumerism. But right about the time I was shutting down, I heard the sound of a beautiful piercing trumpet that was then joined by a tuba, a French horn, and a trombone. The music got up underneath me, and I relaxed and let the music refresh me.
It was then that I began to see another truth at work in the Mall: each one of us was there looking and seeking, searching and desiring to find that "one special gift," that one "special surprise," that one "affectionate touch" for someone other than ourself. At that moment I saw the holiness underneath all the consumer madness. I saw that human beings desire to give of themselves, we desire to help bring happiness into the life of others, we desire to show appreciation and affirmation to others. I saw us, in that moment, as God sees us: as creatures of original blessing, of deep goodness, of kindness, compassion, caring. It was like the veil was removed for a moment, and there was light glowing all around the people.
I want my Christmas moment to stay with me. I don't want to sink into the slime-pit of cynicism. I want to live in that new dawn of hope. But I can only live in this hope if others are living there with me. And so, I want to invite you, dear reader, to join with me, and others, building the Real Change Organizing Project. Together we can put people first, offering a roof over every head, serving food for every belly, providing health care for every body, and building a connection between the homeless and the housed. Together we can become the kind of people who look at every child the way the Magi looked at the homeless Jesus: as someone special, as someone worth sacrificing for, as someone worth protecting, worth honoring, worth adoring.
In this new year let's join hands, roll up our sleeves, and end this long, long loneliness. This year let's convince the Powers to put people first. Let's experience Emmanuel, the light in times of darkness. Indeed, the power of God for justice.
Rev. Rich Lang is pastor of TrinityUnited Methodist Church inBallard, and can be contacted through www.tumseattle.org.