Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas thoughts

It’s 4 more days until Christmas. December flew past and so many of my plans were put on hold so that I could indulge in the true meaning of the season – to give of my time to a worthy cause. I was asked to come in and help out at  the Christian school that I had volunteered at two years ago. This time I was in charge of the middle and high school class. It is an ACE school so they use the PACE program – 12 booklets per subject per year that the students work on independently, so my job was more of a supervisor than a teacher.

It was a hectic three weeks and throughout my time I once again questioned those who call themselves Christians. You see, I didn’t need this job. I have my driving school and my husband has his weddings and between the two businesses we are taken care of, not to mention committed time wise. But we had made a promise to the owners of the school that if help was needed, we would be there. This was our Christian duty. My Christian duty, specifically, as I had the flexibility in my time to do this. And my two older children were fully capable of handling our offices and the care of their siblings.

So it’s the season of Christmas. A time to reflect on the birth of our Savior and the reason He came to earth for us. Pastors speak in churches of the spirit of giving and how this is not supposed to be a commercialized time of year, but a time for helping out those in need, giving to the poor, aiding widows and children, etc. As soon as I heard about the need at the school I called friends of mine who were looking for work and put out the word that here was an oppo9rtunity not only to earn money but to offer Christian service to a group of kids who needed to hear the gospel. You see this is not a school full of sweet Christian kids from good Christian homes. Oh there are a few students who fit that description, but the majority of the kids in this school are there because they have been kicked out of every other school they have attended. They are kids who have been in DYA or other similar programs, whose parents are desperate to find someone who will teach them. What a better audience for someone who wishes to share the gospel and possibly have an impact on a child’s life. And what better time of year to do it in?

Sadly I had no takers. Why is this? Because so many of them listen to rumors and hearsay and look at what is in it for them, not what it is they can give. Will I get paid for my services? How much time will it take from my busy season? I have too much to do this month!

Do they honestly think I have time for this? You know what I told my husband? He said to me, “Why you?” And my response was ,“Because who else will do it?” I had no idea how true this was. I’m  quite saddened by my fellow Christians who are not willing to step out of their comfort zones, who are not willing to step back from their Christmas programs and family obligations in order to truly give back to the community at a time when giving is so emphasized. I wonder what Jesus is thinking right now?

On another note, I read in the paper about a woman who only gives her children three presents each, to represent the three gifts the wise men brought Jesus. She said this was to teach them the gospel and to lessen the commercial aspects of Christmas. I have to admire her desire to teach her children this lesson, but at the same time I question it. For us, Christmas time is about the birth of our Lord and Savior and we do teach this to our children. We also have explained to them how it is a pagan holiday and that Jesus wasn’t really born at this time of the year. And the giving of gifts is more of a tradition. It is a time of year to give your children the things they need (my kids get a lot of new clothes at this time), we replace things that need replacing and we indulge in a few “I really want this” type gifts. It is a time to show our kids how much we love them. And it is just plain old fun.  We don’t have a lot of family around and so, aside from Grandma who sends money every year, all the gifts my children get are from us, their parents.  I don’t think giving only 3 gifts would go over so well with my kids.

Anyway, I hope that families that try to use this time of year to teach a lesson or something think about the other lessons that can also be taught. My children saw the sacrifices I made and understand that giving back to the community at this time of year is invaluable.


unschoolermom said...

Colleen, I really enjoyed this post! It saddens me that people do not think about others - especially this time of year when we think of God's gift to us in Christ our Savior. I have also been discouraged with some of the attitudes that I have encoutered this year! Your post reminds me that there are some people who really do care! Thank you for being one of those people!

That is sad about the woman giving her children only three gifts. I can understand that if the economy prevents parents from giving more to their children. We have had a few dollar store Christmases, believe me. But when we can, I loving giving me sons a little extra. And we also make Christmas fun with extra things other than presents - Christmas traditions, music, and helping others.

God bless.


Les said...

Colleen, I am somewhat surprised there are no "How dare you!" comments. This is a no-holds-barred challenge to people who want to live their faith and obedience to God, not just live by a set of rules that defines their religion.

I, too, am a bit disappointed by people who listen to other people instead of consulting with God.
I also think it's hilarious that some of your friends have scolded you for not praying enough. How many hours do you need to spend in travail and prayer to ask God if you should walk through a wide-open door?! Staving people are beckoning, and you have a truckload of food. Should I feed them? I don't know! I need to pray about it!

Sadly, there is no shortage of Christian people who have been offended by a certain person, have held that hatred and let it burn for years or even decades, and will jump at the opportunity to spread and multiply that hate. I even know a pastor who is willing to sit "in the seat of the scornful" just for the opportunity to sabotage a business opportunity for another pastor with whom he had a disagreement with many years ago.

I guess forgiveness and grace are just words. Can you imagine this guy preaching a sermon on forgiveness? Hah!

I was bragging on you 'cause I am so proud of what you gave up and how much it took out of you to do this. And I felt like I was doing something wrong by advertising it. But... Why not offer it as a challenge? What else are you going to write about? This dominated your entire month (and your family's, too, in case you didn't notice), so it is OK to send out a message. This is what it looks like to just do what God wants you to do instead of using prayer as an excuse for inaction.

You didn't mention how much money we lost by not being in our office, answering phones, late fees for payments you couldn't get sent on time, NSF charges, etc., all because you were tied down at the school with no one person willing to step in, even just to give you a short break if nothing else. The only reason our power was not cut off was you left to pay the bill while I preached at chapel. You have a right to be disappointed in people, and we both have a reason to look for real friendship and encouragement outside the Christian community.

But God did notice. He has presented me with at least 4 distinct and significant promotions/opportunities in the month you taught. He has a big treasure chest full of blessings to share. So thanks for what you did, and having the guts to go ahead and write what is on your heart.

Diane Simmler said...

I feel what you are saying. Just last night after an email stating an effective immediately resignation of a director in our Awana club, I posted on Facebook a question about what people thought about the word commitment!! My husband and I run this club at our church and the level of commitment of some people sometimes is very questionable.

Our family does things. I have SERVCE on our van's license plate. It's what God has called our family to. Not every family is called to be characterized by their service. For others is might be prayer. Others it might be music. Others it might be fill in the blank. Yet, your circumstance was disturbing since you contacted people who were in transition and looking for occupation.

Some rewards or acknowledgments will only come in heaven!