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Christmas Is Not Your Birthday

In hopes of raising awareness about the reality of genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, Sam writes every Monday about a key issue in an attempt to stop the atrocity. Doing so may not bring about a wave of change, but it is a small ripple that represents the tide that needs turning.

While American Christians continue to bicker about President Bush’s holiday card, families continue to die in Darfur, Sudan. This holiday season, selfless individuals could bring monumental change to a region marked by war, strife, hunger, and genocide.

In America, Christians of all types are quickly developing a legacy they will regret. Being known as tee totaling, tongue speaking, rule makers is one thing. Being known for hating homosexuals is another. This holiday season, I have to wonder: “How far have Christians strayed from the original meaning of Christmas, which marks the birth of one who fought for things like social justice, equality, and human rights?”

Granted, my 21st century political jargon is not the terminology Jesus would have used to describe his mission two millennia ago. His own words in Luke describe him as coming to “preach the good news to the poor,” “proclaim freedom for the prisoners,” and “release the oppressed.” Nowhere does he describe his or his followers’ mission as one in which they should lobby for conservative justices, slash programs for the oppressed, or engage in petty arguments over whether it is a ‘holiday’ tree or a ‘Christmas’ tree.

Righting the ship requires immediate action patterned after the selfless and humble acts of Jesus himself. Giving to the poor, valuing every life, and communing with those who are different than us are not new ideas, but ideas that need new life breathed into them this time of year. Instead of worrying about which church will have Sunday services on the 25th, why don’t we worry about whether or not we’re modeling the servant attitude of the one whose birthday we claim to be celebrating?!?!

Therefore, I ask my readers, in the spirit of many pastors (like Mike Slaughter at Ginghamsburg Church) who have asked the same, to take what they’re planning on spending for Christmas and cut it in half. Buy less expensive presents. Buy fewer presents. Your children, parents, spouses and friends will still love you. And, give the other half to groups who are positively making an impact on the victims of Darfur’s genocide.

I realize the detriment this would cause to our economy. But I also realize the benefits for hundreds of thousands of Sudanese without homes, families, medicine, and food. Christmas was never intended to be our birthday. Unfortunately, we’ve placed our capitalist agenda upon it, like we’ve placed our political agenda upon the values of generosity, equality, and forgiveness. There is still time to rescue the legacy of American Christianity before it becomes irredeemable. Let’s start this Christmas, giving of our resources and manifesting the hope and peace that came into that dirty manger so many years ago.

“Christmas Is Not Your Birthday”