Searching for the Christ in Christmas
Written Dec. 2004 by Darryl M. Gumm

For a while, a few weeks ago, I wasn't sure I wanted to get into the "Christmas thing" this year. My wife works retail and the many tales she brings home with her shows how our American society has lost the real meaning of Christmas. Without sounding too negative, I really believe Christmas is more about money and material things than about the hope which can be found in a King who was born in a manger to help the world get a grip on how to live peacefully and in harmony with everything in God's Creation.

A couple weeks ago, the Reverend Roger Mealiff, Senior Pastor of the church I attend in Sheboygan, Wisconsin – Ebenezer United Church of Christ, gave a sermon on seeing Jesus Christ in the people around us, especially those in need. My interpretation of his message is simply this: If we want to find the Christ in Christmas, we need to give “equal time” to those in need. We should match, dollar for dollar in charitable giving to what we spend on all those gifts given to people who really don’t need more stuff in the first place. We should be cognizant of the lonely people in our midst who need a little of our time and attention, there are so many, you know. If we’re too busy, during the holiday season, to respond to these needs, perhaps we will never truly experience Christmas.

Yesterday, I received a phone call from a friend in need. In the true spirit of the holidays, I responded favorably. I also spent some time with my 93 year-old neighbor, who is rather lonely and always eager to get a visit from anyone. Today, my wife and I will be watching the Green Bay Packers football game with an aging and lonely friend. These are examples of ways we are finding the Christ in Christmas, and throughout the year. These are examples of what it means to be instruments of peace.

When the holidays are over and all the decorations are put away, we can sometimes experience a let down or post holiday depression. When we allow the Spirit of the holiday to take a hold of us in ways which allow us to visit the sick and lonely, help put toys, food and clothing into the lives of needy people and touch the lives of our friends and neighbors with our compassion and empathy, the joy and happiness sung about during the holidays, may touch our hearts and souls long after the decorations are packed away.

May this holiday season be happy and joyous to us because of the happiness and the joy we have helped bring into the lives of the very least of those in our midst.