The Blog of Gordon Pruitt the Pastor of St. Matthew's United Methodist Church in Richmond Virginia

Friday, November 30, 2007

It's not your birthday

I was asked by the Washington Post to write a Christmas meditaion. Just kidding, it was the Goochland Courier that asked me. Here is what i have written below. Let me know what you think.

It’s Not Your Birthday.
It’s not your birthday that we will celebrate on December 25. It’s Jesus’ birthday that we celebrate. What would happen if on one of my daughters birthdays’ I got myself some presents, my wife some presents, and my other daughters got presents, but the daughter whose birthday it is got nothing? There would not be peace on earth or good will toward men. Everybody would think we were horrible parents. The truth is that is what often happens with Christmas, we forget whose birthday it is, we forget the reason for the season. Jesus!

One of the ways we can celebrate Jesus’ birthday is by giving to the poor. As Jesus says in Matthew 25:40, “whatever you did for one of the least of these (the hungry, the thirsty, the immigrants, the naked, the sick, the prisoner, the lonely) brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” What Jesus says in this passage is that he identifies with the poor. If we serve the poor, it is the same as serving Jesus, and when we don’t serve the poor it is the same as not serving Jesus.

Jesus not only identifies with the poor, he was poor. Jesus was born in a stable. When Joseph and Mary went to present Jesus at the temple and have Jesus circumcised their sacrifice was the sacrifice of the poor, a pair of doves or two young pigeons (Luke 3:24, Leviticus 12:8). You could make the case that when Jesus started his ministry he was homeless. Jesus was always eating and staying at someone else’s house. At one point Jesus says, “foxes have holes, birds have nests, but the son of man has no place to lay his head.” When Jesus entered Jerusalem, he entered on a borrowed donkey. When Jesus and his disciples had the last supper they met in a borrowed room. After Jesus died they placed his body not in his tomb, but a borrowed tomb. Jesus identified with the poor and was poor.

My challenge to you during this Christmas season is to remember whose birthday it is and give half of your planned Christmas spending to the poor. If you normally spend $500 on Christmas this year spend $250 on Christmas and give the rest to the poor. How much of what we get or give on Christmas is really needed? There are people that have legit needs some in our own country. There are over 6 billion people in the world and half of them live on less than $2 a day. 30,000 people die a day from starvation. That is one person every 3 seconds. In the time it has taken you to read this article (3 minutes) 60 people have died. Let that sink in. This is not the way things have to be. This Christmas season, remember whose birthday it is and strive to live a simple Christmas so others might simply live.


gavin richardson said...

you would like cool people care ( "Christmas is Not Your Birthday campaign.

Justin said...

that was great Gordon! we had a very similar lesson this morning in our Sunday School class. I really like the connection you made (jesus' birthday--give to those who are representative of christ on earth, i.e. the poor). thanks for your words--i think the spirit might be trying to speak to me through the lesson this morning and your words tonight.