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Friday, January 17, 2020

Sufficient

     You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.  
-Matthew 5:38-42 (NIV)


I noticed this week that a large, private Christian university had launched a “think tank” to, in their words, “equip courageous champions to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ, to advance his kingdom and American freedom.” (I don’t really want to name the university or link to them, but if you’re interested you should be able to find them easily enough.)
     I guess I’m generally pretty suspicious of “think tanks”; I tend to think that they mainly serve as convenient tanks for charitable money, with vague enough missions that they don’t much have to account for it. I’m definitely for proclaiming the truth of Jesus Christ, though, and for advancing his kingdom. I’m certainly appreciative of American freedom as well, though I get a little jittery when those things are clumped too closely together. I think too much can get compromised, and usually the compromise doesn’t come in the “American freedom” part of mission statements like this one. 
     To be specific, I think when we link the truth of Jesus, the advance of his kingdom, and a (any) specific view of America, we can too painlessly and easily equate the America of our mind’s eye with the work of Jesus in the world. When that happens, the truth of Jesus tends to become whatever American ideology might be driving us. The advance of the Kingdom gets confused with the advance of a conservative or liberal or more inclusive or more exclusive or more religious or less religious America. We tend to get less involved with, I don’t know, living the way Jesus taught us as we get more concerned with Presidents and congresspeople and Supreme Court Justices and political power. 
     But the truth of Jesus and the advance of his kingdom doesn’t necessarily have much to do with American freedom, however we conceive of it. 
     You know that’s true. There are people right now in some of the most oppressive, repressive, dictatorial regimes in the world who are living by the truth of Jesus and working for the advance of his kingdom. They would love to live with the most eroded version of American freedom that you and I can imagine in our worst nightmares, but they are experiencing the blessings of God in Christ — and blessing their world — right where they are.
     A quick question: in which democracy did Jesus live? The early church?
     In fact, concern with American freedom — however you conceive of it — sometimes makes it difficult to live out the truth of Jesus in our lives. If you doubt that, then take a look at this line from the mission statement of the “think tank” I referenced earlier:   
Bemoaning the rise of leftism is no longer enough, and turning the other cheek in our personal relationships with our neighbors as Jesus taught while abdicating our responsibilities on the cultural battlefield is no longer sufficient. There is too much at stake in the battle for the soul of our nation. Bold, unapologetic action and initiative is needed…
     So, correct me if I’m wrong, but this group of thinkers from a Christian university is so committed to “the truth of Jesus” and “the advance of his kingdom” that they explicitly believe that they shouldn’t follow one of Jesus’ direct commands. According to them, what Jesus taught is no longer sufficient. We have “responsibilities on the cultural battlefield” — fighting “the rise of leftism,” apparently — that outweigh our responsibility to follow the teachings of Jesus.
     Well, I’m not part of a think tank — I can barely think — but could I just ask a crazy question? Who says we have responsibilities in any culture war at all? Has the American church been drafted, and I didn’t get the letter? Can I just sit this one out? Can I be a conscientious objector in these vague “culture wars”?    
     The problem with this think tank is that they’re conflating being a Christian with “defending American ideals and Judeo-Christian values.” Leaving aside the fact that they’re defending a very specific subset of those ideals and values they say they champion, I don’t see Jesus telling the Zealots to rise up against the Romans — in fact, if anything he seems to say the opposite. That thing about turning the other cheek: that wasn’t only about personal relationships. Jesus followed that up by telling folks who found themselves coerced to “go one mile” to “go with them two” — probably alluding to the practice of Roman soldiers forcing local residents to work for them, carry their burdens, use their animals, and so forth. 
     Point is, Jesus had the chance to tell his followers to defend Israelite ideals and values. He told them that their responsibilities on the cultural battlefield of Roman-occupied Palestine consisted of not resisting an evil person, giving to the one who asked something of them, loving their enemies as well as their neighbor, and praying for those who persecuted them.   
     What Jesus taught is sufficient. 
     It’s sufficient to prioritize being reconciled to those who have something against us. That matters even more than the personal observation of our own religion.
     It’s sufficient to settle disputes with others quickly, instead of letting them develop into long, ugly court cases.
     It’s sufficient to guard our hearts against adultery by showing discipline about where we look, and how, and at whom.
     It’s sufficient to be people who can be trusted, known for meaning it when we say yes or no, whether to our spouses, in personal relationships, or in public settings.
     It’s sufficient to let God’s love for all people — the evil and the good, the righteous and the unrighteous — be the model for our love for those around us, whether they’re people who are like us and who we understand, or people so different that understanding seems impossible. It’s sufficient to show the love of God to every person, not just by what we say, but by what we do. 
     It’s sufficient to give to Caesar what belongs to him, but never anything that rightfully belongs to God.
     What Jesus taught is always sufficient, and may his church always be known less for our political opinions and more for the way we radically follow the One who gave himself for all people. That’s how we advance his kingdom. 
     The only culture war he ever fought, he fought from a cross. 

     May we carry our own crosses and follow him by giving ourselves in love for others. That is sufficient.   

Friday, January 10, 2020

"Loving...Stubborn...Conservative"

     Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that…you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 
-1 Timothy 3:14-15 (NIV)


Someone sent me a job posting for a minister a couple of weeks ago. No, I’m not looking, but this person thought I might get a kick out of this one. 
     It’s amazing sometimes to see what churches are looking for when they’re in a search. Some of the posts I’ve seen — well, I don’t think Jesus himself, Paul, and all of the twelve apostles together would be qualified to fill some of those positions.  
     This post wasn’t like that, though. This one wasn’t too unreasonable as to qualifications. They wanted him to be hard-working and “special.” The first ought to be expected. The second? Well, I imagine they have an idea of what “special” means, developed from years of positive and negative experiences with ministers. 
     What really caught my eye in this case, actually, was the way the church described themselves: “Loving but stubborn and conservative.”
     I like their honesty, I’ll give them that. 
     Most churches are. “Loving but stubborn and conservative,” I mean.
     Most churches, the vast majority, know that for Christians love is probably the most important value, and that if you miss on love not much else matters — sounding gong and clanging cymbal, and all that. Most churches consider themselves loving. And in most churches, if you ask the people who have been around a long time if they feel loved by their church, they’ll definitely say they do. Of course so. If not, why would they have been around so long?
     In a lot of churches, though —  maybe most? — the people who haven’t been around so long might not answer in the affirmative. Ditto for the folks who are maybe a little different, who don’t quite fit in with others at church so easily. Those who don’t show up for all the services don’t always feel too loved, and it’s easy for elders and ministers and others who lead the church to dismiss that as their fault. “If they’d show up more, they’d feel more loved.” That might be, but it might also make someone wonder why they ought to put themselves out there if they can’t quite reach the attendance threshold required for full inclusion.
     I think most churches know the value of love. I think most are trying to show love. It’s usually in the execution of it that something goes wrong, at least for some folks. Maybe it gets shoved into the background, behind all the worship services, ministry, and evangelism we’re trying to do. Let’s be sure that we don’t overlook love. Otherwise, our churches will be places filled with noise and activity, but nothing of real lasting value. It’s love, after all, that makes what we do profitable.
     In addition to being loving, most churches are stubborn. I’m not really talking about individuals here, though there are some stubborn individuals in most churches. What I’m saying is that churches are stubborn collectively. Churches are hard to move. Their rudders are more than a little sluggish. They aren’t capable of — nor interested in — quick course corrections. 
     Speaking as a minister, I can tell you that a lot of us wouldn’t want to go to a church that characterized themselves as “stubborn.” That’s because most of us start off, at least, thinking our ideas are the best ones, our plans are the ones that will help the church grow, and that our vision should be the one to lead the church forward. 
     God save us from ministers with plans and vision.
     I’m kidding, but only a little.
     Whether or not a church being stubborn or not is a good thing or a bad thing depends, as it does with individuals, on what they’re stubborn about. There are words for people who think they’ve discovered something truly new about Christianity — heretic, apostate. I don’t mean, of course, that sometimes things can’t be forgotten and rediscovered. That rediscovery is a necessary part of the life of the church, and the Spirit uses it from time to time — probably constantly — to renew and revive the church. But there are things about which the church has to be stubborn or we lose our identity and our purpose. Paul refers to the church in First Timothy as “the pillar and foundation (or bulwark) of the truth.” He expected that we will stubbornly hold to a standard of conduct that will support and defend the truth of Jesus’ coming.
     Of course, that stubbornness won’t always stay in its lane, will it? Once you’ve started being stubborn about some things, it can be really easy and feel really good to be stubborn about everything. 
     Most churches are conservative. Not politically or theologically conservative, of course — there are churches all over the spectrum there. One definition of “conservative” is “holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation,” and that describes the mindset of most churches. We do what we’ve always done for a reason, and if we’re going to change there ought to be a really good reason.  
     That sounds right, but there’s an assumption there: that things should never change unless there’s compelling evidence what we try will be better. That’s an impossible standard. It doesn’t allow much room for experimentation. It doesn’t leave space to try something new, just to see if it’s better or more effective or more helpful or even more biblical than the way things have always been. 
     When that conservatism and stubbornness is applied — as if often is — to the way a church understands Scripture, then it’s very easy for conservatism to take on the sheen of orthodoxy, of “sound doctrine.” We do things the way we’ve always done them because “the Bible clearly says….” We lose sight of the fact that our forebears may have built their biblical case to match the practices and values we have adopted, and not the other way around. We should ask ourselves sometimes if we do what we do because the Bible says we must, or if we read the Bible the way we read it because that’s how we find support for the things we’ve already decided to do. 
     And how might our stubbornness and conservativeness alienate the very people we should be loving?  
     Loving, stubborn, and conservative. All important, but in the right measure, in the correct circumstances, and with the right emphasis.

     That’s how we’ll do our job as the church.

Friday, January 3, 2020

In Remembrance

     Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters…Continue to remember…those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering….
     The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
-Hebrews 13:1, 3, 11-14 (NIV)


Last Sunday, about the time we were sharing communion at our church, sisters and brothers in Christ in suburban Fort Worth were taking cover as a gunman opened fire during communion at West Freeway Church of Christ. Two, Richard White and Tony Wallace, were killed. The gunman, Keith Thomas Kinnunen, who had a history of mental illness, was killed as well.
     I’ve been thinking a lot about those murdered brothers of mine. I didn’t know them, but Churches of Christ are a relatively small network. I know the son of a member of the West Freeway church. I likely know other people who knew Mr. White and Mr. Wallace. Most Sundays, when I share in communion I think about my sisters and brothers at Northwest. Now and then, rarely, I guess, I think about the way communion brings me together with sisters and brothers in Christ all over the world, friends and family I miss, other Christians I’ll never meet, sometimes even those who  have gone on to be with the Lord. When I do, I’m usually thinking of how communion draws us together based on our faith in a suffering and resurrected Savior who makes us one body. 
     For the foreseeable future, though, I can’t imagine I’ll share in communion without thinking of Richard White and Tony Wallace. And even Keith Thomas Kinnunen. I think I’ll remember them, and remember those who had to watch them die while wondering if they were next, and members standing up to protect others instead of taking cover, and parents protecting children and spouses holding each other. It’s going to be hard not to juxtapose the quiet and peace of communion at Northwest with the chaos and fear — and also the courage and love — that marked communion at West Freeway last Sunday. That will likely mark it for a long time.
     Some might say that’s a distraction, that what I ought to be thinking about during communion is Christ dying for me on the cross. “Do this in remembrance of me,” and all that. I disagree. I don’t think it’s a distraction at all. How can we remember Christ’s suffering for us without considering the suffering of our sisters and brothers in Christ? That gunman walked into that church with a gun last Sunday at least partially because there were a group of people in there who wore the name of Jesus. We ought to remember that, and mourn with them — as well as hold up the One who suffered to save them from exactly the kind of evil that seemed to win the day. 
     The writer of Hebrews says we ought to remember those who are mistreated as though we ourselves are suffering. Suffering shouldn’t be as distant as we let it be sometimes. We need to resist the impulse to hold it at arm’s length, to thank God that this or that particular suffering is not my problem because it isn’t in my church or my backyard. He says that we need to see the suffering we bear as part of Jesus’ suffering, that sometimes we have to join him “outside the city gate” — where things that aren’t palatable to polite society might happen — and bear the disgrace he bore. This is, I think, one of those times. 
     Suffering can push us apart. But sharing in suffering can also bring us together. To take on someone else’s burden — even partially, for just a moment — is to do something that’s very like Jesus. To bear the sins of others on our shoulders, to sit with all the pain and sorrow and grief that brings, even for an instant, is to be very much like Jesus. That’s how he solved the problem of evil, after all. By bearing it. Not solving it, legislating it, denying it, or trivializing it. He just allowed it to be piled on him as he hung bleeding on the cross. 
     There are those, predictably, already trying to use the West Freeway tragedy for their own purposes. Some are using it as another case study for why we need stricter gun control laws. Others cite it as an example of how open carry laws work, that the armed good guys shot the armed bad guy before more people died. Don’t do that. What happened in that church a week ago isn’t about the Second Amendment, or liberals vs. conservatives. It’s about evil and about sin: the evil and sin of a man who senselessly and selfishly killed two people, and maybe also the evil and sin of a world in which he slipped through the cracks instead of getting the help he needed. But it’s also about hope: that people will still sacrifice their lives to save others, and that One already did sacrifice his life to bear our sins and save us all.    
     So, please, resist the impulse to make pronouncements about gun control vs. open carry (as though one cancels out the other). Instead, this Sunday as you remember the suffering of your Savior in communion, would you remember the suffering of your brothers and sisters at the West Freeway church? Would you pray for them?
     And, while we’re at it, maybe we could pray for all of our brothers and sisters all over the world who suffer violence, tyranny, and persecution on a daily basis.
     And maybe we can let our identification with suffering sisters and brothers teach us how to identify with Jews suffering persecution in New York. Maybe, if we can share more in the suffering of our extended family in Christ, we’ll more sensitive to and aware of the suffering of others in our world, other people who our Father loves and for whom Jesus died. 
     In prayer during a gathering on Monday, the day after the shootings, an elder at West Freeway spoke these words to God: “With all of our hearts, we ache. And with all of our hearts, we love. What we feel as loss, we know is your gain. Guide us in how we handle the losses … that your way be our way.”
     Amen. May his way — the long and sometimes hard way of sharing in the suffering of others, offering love in response to hate, and taking the burdens and sins of others on our own shoulders — be our way. And may we never forget that Jesus has walked that way for all of us.

     Do this in remembrance of him.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Impeachment and the Song of Mary

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; 
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 
He has brought down rulers from their thrones 
but has lifted up the humble.  
-Luke 1:51-52 (NIV)


This year, as Christmas closes in, for the third time in American history the House of Representatives has voted to impeach a President. For the third time in our history, a President will stand trial in the Senate.
     Like most Presidents, I suppose, this one has been polarizing. Presidents often inspire both blind love and irrational hatred, and arguably to a degree that far exceeds their actual importance. A presidency is best evaluated, probably, by historians who weren’t alive during its span. Whichever side of the aisle you fall on, though, and even if you don’t much care about politics, when a majority of the House votes to impeach it’s not a good day. It doesn’t seem like something either side should celebrate, even those who think the President is unfit for office. At best, an impeachment is a necessary but unpleasant duty. At worst, it’s a campaign tactic.     
     The fact that all this is happening before Christmas is reminding me, though, of what those of us who celebrate the significance of Christ’s birth actually believe. And maybe we need reminding. Because maybe we’re too quick to believe that it’s a President — or his downfall — that will ultimately ensure safety, security, and prosperity for ourselves and those we love.
     After the angel Gabriel visits Mary, the gospel of Luke attributes a song to her. We usually call it the Magnificat, after the first word in the Latin Vulgate New Testament. In the song, Mary glorifies God and celebrates having been chosen to give birth to Jesus. But she also sings about one other thing, something that I think is especially appropriate this Christmas as the news talks impeachment and maybe we worry about the divided state of our country.
     Mary believes that what God will do through the child she’s bringing into the world is the same brand of “mighty deeds” that he’s always done. And she lists those mighty deeds:
He has scattered those whose pride wells up from the arrogance of their hearts
He has brought down the powerful and lifted up those in humble circumstances
He has filled the hungry with good things and has sent the rich away empty
Between his mother and his Father, I guess it’s no surprise that Jesus made promises like, “the first will be last, and the last will be first,” or “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled,” or “those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Jesus’ conviction that the kingdom of God would overturn the values of every earthly kingdom was literally part of his DNA. It was baked into him from the womb.
     What we’re saying when we glorify the Lord for the birth of Jesus is that none of the values upon which we human beings typically build kingdoms, and by which we defend them, are the ones that God cares about. More than that, we’re saying that the values of human kingdoms are more typically antithetical to his kingdom. Pride in accomplishment, belief in our own strength, the ideas that might makes right and that the wealthy are more important than the poor — human kingdoms from the dawn of time have existed on those principles. But God is continually acting in history to scatter the proud, bring down the powerful, lift up the humble, fill the hungry, and empty out and toss away those who flaunt and hoard their wealth.  
     I’m not saying that the impeachment of our current President is God’s work. Neither do I know that it’s not. What I am saying is that those of us who believe in Jesus believe that God will lift up and bring down rulers until Jesus returns. I’m saying that our hope doesn’t depend on a King, or even a President. I’m saying that no kingdom is free from God’s judgment or essential to our well-being — not even the American kingdom. I’m saying that maybe we should be concerned a little less this Christmas about the powerful playing their power games and more about embodying God’s care for those in humble position. I’m saying that the truly important things in the world aren’t happening in Washington, D.C., but in our churches, homes, offices, and neighborhoods — wherever people who believe in Jesus and are energized and led by his Spirit make good on his mom’s promise that he will fill the hungry with good things.
     People turn to Presidents and Senators and Congressmen because they need hope. They need reassurance. They need to know that their voices matter and that they don’t have to be afraid and that, one day, they’ll have what’s missing from their lives. Well, God can and has used — and certainly still is using — those with political power to help people. But in the birth of Christ he told us that political power is just one tool that he uses, and that those he puts into power will also be taken down. God’s people are saved because God is merciful, and for no other reason. 
     And the form God’s mercy ultimately took was that of a baby in an animal shelter in a little town so far away from the important people and places that it was still called The City of David a thousand years after David sat on the throne.        
    The truly important things in the world — the things of ultimate significance and relevance to every person on earth — aren’t happening in Washington, D.C., this Christmas. Just like, on that night Bethlehem, they weren’t happening in Rome or Jerusalem. They were happening in Bethlehem, known only to a young working-class couple, her cousin and (somehow) her baby, a few shepherds, and group of astrologers from the East. Oh, and known to a numberless host of angels, and to a Father who was remembering to be merciful to his people.
     And he still remembers, even today. Long after the impeachment trial is over, long after these events are known only in history books, his mercy will remain. And so will the hope that was born when his mercy and powerful Word was given flesh. When everything about this presidency — and America itself — is a distant memory, Jesus will still be giving birth to that hope in the hearts of men and women. 
     Look for what matters this Christmas. It won’t be what most everyone thinks it is. 

     Look for what matters, and be a part of it.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Christ in Christmas

         The people walking in darkness 
have seen a great light; 
on those living in the land of deep darkness 
a light has dawned….
           For to us a child is born, 
to us a son is given, 
and the government will be on his shoulders. 
And he will be called 
  Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, 
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 
-Isaiah 9:2, 6 (NIV)


A Chattanooga, Tennessee, resident is really shining this Christmas.
     Chattanooga — where, it happens, I grew up — is the home of Miguel Wattson. Miguel lives at the Tennessee Aquarium. He’s an electric eel (Watt-son…get it?), and the Aquarium is making use of his unique talents to light up a Christmas tree near his tank. The AV Production specialist hooked up some sensors to Mr. Wattson’s tank, and his shocks — which he emits when he’s looking for food — cause the lights on the tree to flash on and off with varying degrees of brightness and power speakers that create sound effects. 
     The Aquarium had a tree-lighting ceremony last week that they called — bad pun alert — “Shocking Around the Christmas Tree.”
     One of the things I like about Christmas — and, in fact, the other holidays celebrated this time of year — is that light is an important tradition. Maybe it’s because it gets dark so much earlier this time of year, at least in this hemisphere. It’s nice, though, to drive through my neighborhood and see the lights strung on houses and bushes and trees, lighting up yards that are normally dark by 4:30. 
     Lights are certainly an appropriate symbol for Christmas, more so even than Santa Claus, Christmas trees, reindeer, or stockings hung by the chimney with care. Looking forward through the centuries, Isaiah saw a “great light”coming to illuminate people walking in darkness. He located that light in a child to be born, a child who would lead his people by relieving them from their oppression, taking away their burdens, turning war into peace, and establishing a new world of justice and righteousness.
     I know, most of us string lights without thinking of all that. We put them up thinking that they look pretty, or that they make us feel happy, and that’s fine. Putting them up might even be just one more chore we have to check off our Christmas to-do lists, in between buying gifts and baking cookies for the office Christmas exchange.      
     The problem is that a symbol that no longer connects to its meaning isn’t really a symbol anymore, is it?
     It’s hard to deny that something like that has happened with Christmas. Originally a feast day to mark the birth (or baptism) of Jesus, Christmas through the centuries kind of soaked up other celebrations and traditions. We sometimes decry the commercialization of Christmas in our age, forgetting that the industry built around the conglomeration of holiday traditions and gift-buying that we celebrate today arguably began in the 19th century. The early church wouldn’t have recognized the idealized Dickensian Christmases of 200 years ago any more than they would have recognized the multi-holiday winter celebrations of today. That isn’t a problem; there’s a lot about our world two thousand years later that the early church wouldn’t recognize. It’s just a fact. 
     Some Christians today think that we’re being persecuted if we’re not allowed to celebrate Christmas just like the Cratchetts in A Christmas Carol. But those Westernized Christmases of two hundred years ago were not necessarily any more Christian than our celebrations today.  Some Christians just choose not to be a part of the commercialization of the Holidays, effectively conceding to Santa Claus. More of us just kind of roll along with the current, putting up our trees and buying our gifts like everyone else, and occasionally remembering that, somehow, we need to “keep Christ in Christmas.”
     Which brings me back, somehow, to Miguel Wattson.
     If we want to keep Christ in Christmas, I really don’t think it’s going to be by going back in time to the good old days when every town square had a nativity scene and everyone said “Merry Christmas” to everyone else. Neither, obviously, are we going to keep Christ in Christmas by giving in to the impulse to max out all our credit cards and make Christmas into nothing more than a retail bacchanal. (Some predict Americans will spend $1 trillion on Christmas this year.) 
     To keep Christ in Christmas, look to the Christmas eel of Tennessee. Miguel Wattson is using what the Lord has given him to light his corner of the world this Christmas. If an eel can do it, so can we.
     “You are the light of the world,” Jesus told his disciples. Paul called the church “the body of Christ.” The light of Christ is generated in our world — if it’s generated at all — by people who follow him. That light that dawned at his birth on all those people walking in darkness dawns in our world when Christians live like he taught us to live and are busy doing the things he told us to do. Yes, it really is that simple. 
     So as the Holidays begin this year, you might ask yourself what the Lord has given you that you can use to light up the corner of the world that you inhabit. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. It won’t necessarily come in the form of an extravagant gift, or a perfectly set table, or a stylishly decorated home. The light of Christ is best seen in the dark places, so perhaps that’s where you should let the light he’s given you shine. Shine it where people are hurting, where they’re full of sorrow and regret and grief and pain. Shine it where people are lonely. Shine it by including in your celebrations those who otherwise would be sitting alone in empty apartments or houses. 
     Keep Christ in Christmas by making a giving list instead of a gift list. By serving instead of being served. Keep Christ in Christmas by forgiving those who have hurt you, and by asking for forgiveness from anyone you may have injured. Keep Christ in Christmas by being an agent of peace on earth, not just a recipient. Light up  your world with acts and words that glorify God, lift up Jesus, and proclaim the gospel.
      You might even create more light than Miguel Wattson. 

     I wouldn’t be shocked.

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