Recently, I read that the US uses 70% of the world’s resources (actually, I think that it’s more accurate to say that richest 20%, but anyway). The period of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas produces 40% of retail revenue for the entire year.
Are you kidding me?
Forty percent of business has to have Christmas or there won’t be an economy.
Sounds absolutely crazy.
If the thing is about Jesus, it does anyway.
History Lesson Time
“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.” [Lk 2:1-3]
When Luke tells the story about Jesus, it starts with an insane amount of money; kind of like 40% of the economy. A census was not about a Caesar who cared about each and every person in his empire. It was about a Caesar who cared about how much each and every person in the empire owed him.
It took a huge military for Rome to maintain its “Peace, Love and Understanding” foreign policy. What’s so funny???
Augustus, conquerer of the whole dang world, needed some cash, so a census was the answer. Each person was taxed on everything coming and going and the only way to make sure the Romans got dey deep rolls of fat Benjamins was to register all of the people that were under Roman rule.
Caesar was concerned with bringing people together to find out how much tax people owed him. Jesus brought people together and paid their debts himself.
Caesar tied people down to an economy they couldn’t bear.
Jesus freed people into a new economy of God’s love and grace.
The story of Christmas isn’t that we have to buy gifts, it’s that we were given one. It’s not that we go into debt. The story of Christmas is that God created a way for us to get out of it. That’s an absolutely amazing story. It’s the most profound story that exists. Everybody wants to sell you something. Only Jesus wants to buy you back (as funky as you may be).
So are you buying or telling?
There’s this song, “Go tell it on the mountain,” the lyrics make you stop and re:think the whole deal. “Go tell it on the mountian, over the hills and everywhere, Go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born.”
If that song were written today, perhaps the lyrics would be:
Go tell it to your neighbor,
cook up a meal and tak it over there,
Go tell it to your network,
that Jesus Christ has freed you from the debt
that weighed down your soul like a credit card bill.”
(you have to sing that last line really fast)