Friday, December 21, 2007

Christ's Festival

I finally decided "what to do for Christmas". I'm still not prepared to entirely reject all this gift giving. In part, this is because I don't want to behave in a way that could reasonably make friends and family feel alienated. I think simply abstaining from giving gifts would do just that. I am still giving gifts also because I do not yet have an alternative. Christ's Festival should be celebrated in some way, surely. Finally, giving gifts isn't exactly an inappropriate way to celebrated God's Gift to the world, it's just gotten way out of hand.

I discovered . While this may not be the perfect solution I seek, it is very pleasantly a step in the right direction. At this site, you can donate to a vast array of charities. The wide selection includes Pregenancy Support Services and Campus Crusade for Christ, so I consider the endeavor legitimate. In addition, it is a member of the Better Business Bureau.

But, you can also purchase a gift card and have it shipped or emailed to whomever you desire to give a gift. They then donate the value of the card to the charity of their choice.


'For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

It is his birthday, after all.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mutual Submission

I've heard the phrase "mutual submission" used to describe the message of Ephesians 5:21: Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

This phrase always reminds me of a pair of Looney Tunes cartoon characters. They are chipmunks who speak with what I thought as a child was an English accent. But, their speech can more accurately be described as "high society" or genteel. Whenever the pair approached something they could not do together, like passing through a narrow opening, one would motion toward the door with his palm up and say to the other, "After you." The other would then reply, "No, after you." The first would then say, "You're too kind. Please, go ahead." This went on for a while until, finally, one would say, "Let's go together, shall we?" The other would reply, "Oh what a wonderful idea. Yes, I think we shall." Then, they would both painfully squeeze through the door together.

But even this is an understated demonstration of "mutual submission". Truly mutual submission would require us each to obey every other. This would result in near chaos as we, in our flesh, would compete to be first to give a command so that the other would be required to submit rather than vice versa. In fact, "mutual submission" is no less an oxymoron than "partially surrounded", "jumbo shrimp", or "six-month anniversary".

While I have heard it said, by those who have yet to be sanctified to the extent that they do not despise the word of God, that the subsequent verses confirm the fantasy of "mutual submission", in fact, these verses decisively demonstrate precisely the opposite.

The following verses, 5:22 - 6:9, are examples in which submission is already expected and part of the society of that time. There is nothing new in the fact of submission. The command is in how to submit. The examples give us details we can follow to give us an idea what it means to submit well. We are also encouraged and reminded in each example that our command is not merely to submit to the one who is in authority over us, but that both we in submission and those in authority are under the authority of Jesus, Lord over all.

The submission referenced in this passage is not mutual. No submission can be mutual. There is no such thing. Neither is the teaching here primarily about submission. But relationships wherein submission must occur are revealed as a context for the glory of God.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


What have Frosty the Snowman and toys to do with Christ's festival?

Growing up, Christmas was all about the toys I anticipated receiving. Later, it became more and more about gifts I would give to others. This seems so much more honorable, mature, and generous. But, I gave for my own glory and satisfaction, not for that of others. To my shame, I gave certainly not for the glory of God. What a shame indeed that a festival of The Almighty God's ultimate grace to us -even us- has been twisted and soiled until it is now, even for Christians, a selfish frenzy of worship for a false god, material wealth.

As a child, I was mystified by the elderly who often said when asked that they didn't want anything for Christmas. I have finally come to relate to boredom with the world and all the gifts it offers.

If only Christmas can be a Festival of Christ, then where can boredom live? And what becomes of the body of Christ when it worships in Spirit and Truth?

But how do we do such a thing? Not only so but how to we transition to it, whatever it turns out to be, from the materialist, idolatrous worship of this world that we do now?

Last year, I gave to some a set of CD's describing the scientific evidence debunking the myth of biological evolution. I consider this insufficient, but at least better than what I have always done. This year, I intended to give a gift, the proceeds of which would support adoption of orphans through a Christian organization. Unfortunately, the website for such purchases (the only method available, as far as I know) is down for maintenance. But this is much better, I think. Still, the mere giving of a gift can hardly be called a celebration or festival.

Even now, we have a Christmas Eve service at church. But this does not inhibit or replace our year long idolatry as we prepare for the annual worship of the money, celebrated by giving all that it can buy to those who will also give to us.

I seek to replace what we have been doing, but perhaps I cannot learn what I should be doing instead until I fully and sincerely repent. Otherwise, I might endeavor to serve two masters. Our gracious Lord deserves better.