Back on April 1, my wife and I were in Raleigh. We were helping our youngest daughter with a move.
Outside her home, I spoke briefly with a UPS delivery driver. I asked him if the company was busy. He grinned and replied, “It’s just like Christmas.”
The assist for his smile goes to COVID-19.
This past Tuesday in our church staff meeting via Zoom, our senior pastor ended the meeting with some seed planting. In our next gathering, he wants us to have discussion about Advent and Christmas.
Today is Thursday, June 25. In six quick months, it will be Christmas Day.
Go ahead start hurling insults at me. I deserve it for bringing up Christmas in June.
Christmas might seem a long way off, but that day will be here in a blink. I wonder what Christmas 2020 will look like?
I’ll be honest with you, I have already figured out what I want for Christmas. I want a soon to be released new gadget named a heart changer.
I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to ignore my heart at Christmas. I become wrapped up in the annual pursuit of perfection through all of the commercial trappings.
Every Christmas, I quietly say to myself that I’m going to brush aside the madness it creates. But, in truth I never do. And the reason I never do is fear.
In the movie Home Alone, screenwriter, John Hughes develops an interesting dialogue between Kevin, an elementary aged youngster, and his elderly neighbor, Marley. The scene takes place in a church sanctuary on Christmas Eve.
Initially, for lots of untrue neighborhood rumors, Kevin is afraid of Marley. But, the polite Marley starts the conversation with “Merry Christmas.” Both Kevin and Marley open up about themselves. Marley shares the story of an old argument that he had with his son. That argument estranged the father and son.
Kevin encourages Marley to reach back out to his son. But Marley tells Kevin he is hesitant, he is afraid that his son will not talk with him.
With lots of respect, Kevin asks Marley, “Aren’t you a little old to be afraid?”
And Marley answers with this,“You can be old for a lot of things.
You’re never too old to be afraid.”
I don’t know about you, but since the middle of March, my brain has been swirling. Fear is at the center of that never ending spin.
I fear COVID-19. I fear the inability of America to solve our longstanding internal problems. I fear the November election. I fear the future for our children and their children.
Recently, I found a bit of comfort in Coach K’s comments about the turmoil in America when he said: “I have been trying to find eloquent words to explain my thoughts regarding the recent acts of injustice in our country, but I cannot be eloquent about this. I am too emotional. I am angry! I am frustrated! I am disgusted and frankly, I am scared.”
Coach K scared? I always viewed him as being tough as nails. But, here is what I love about his comments— he spoke with honesty straight from his heart.
And, I will tell you the truth, that is my biggest fear in this chaos, I am not sure that we have the desire to change our hearts.
I expect the marketing and advertising for the heart changer to start soon. It will be presented in one of those fast talking, 30 second television ads. The cost of the heart changer will be an amazing $9.99.
If someone was really clever, they would run a quiet counter to the $9.99 heart changer with a PSA (Public Service Announcement).
The PSA would simply be scrolled across the television screen:
Christmas is coming. Give America a gift—the changing of your heart. Change your heart forever. America needs it now.
In the last stanza of the Christmas carol, “In The Bleak Midwinter,” a quiet, but moving question is asked—“What can I give him?”
The response is very simple— “give my heart.”
Pulling America out of this mess will require giving and changing our hearts.
That will be tough work, but we have no options.
At the very least, that work will compel us to listen in different ways from what we have attempted in the past.
Courage, patience, and honesty will drive this listening.
Calendar is moving. Christmas is coming.
And the truth is we don’t need a gimmicky heart changer for $9.99.
No, to change our hearts, we need to stop being stubborn, let go of fear, and work until we have solutions for every injustice.