Quick. What were you doing two weeks ago today? Hmm...let's see...
Opening presents? Preparing Christmas dinner ? Putting toys together?
Hard to believe two weeks have passed already. New year, new decade...and what is different? We put so much effort in to readying our homes for Christmas, to buying gifts in honor of Jesus' birth. What does that mean now?
My friend Jane displays a very simple Nativity set in her home. No elaborate faces or garments, but almost silhouette-like figurines which give us the opportunity to think about the real people represented - the simple carpenter and his young bride, the dirty shepherds, the baby who only wanted warmth and sustenance.
Several weeks ago, after studying the Nativity set, Jane's six year old granddaughter asked, "Grandma, why does Jesus look like a taco?" Jane admitted that, due to the stark nature of the set, the baby and his swaddling clothes did resemble a taco. We laughed about it.
It occurs to me, two weeks after Christians celebrate the birth of the Savior, a similar question can be asked by people who aren't laughing. It can be asked on any day by many people who don't know our Christ and wonder why they should, based on what they see in us.
Why does Jesus look like someone who is nasty to the grocery store clerk then leaves his cart in the middle of the parking lot?
Why does Jesus look like someone who doesn't tip well?
Why does Jesus look like someone who sits in the break room judging, criticizing, gossiping...or sits at the church dinner doing the same?
Why does Jesus look like someone who has so little peace that he goes off on his kids, his spouse, other drivers, anyone who crosses his path?
Why does Jesus look like someone who is racist, sexist, or any other -ist that hurts so many people?
Why does Jesus look like someone who is close-minded about what "church" should be, who we should welcome, how they should dress?
Just because "he" is the pronoun used doesn't mean women are not perpetrators as well. And these aren't issues one might see as huge and life-threatening.
But they are behaviors people observe. To paraphrase the Apostle Paul, I can sponsor 10 children through World Vision and tithe half my money to the church, but if I am a nasty neighbor, no one is seeing the Jesus I celebrate. I can wear my Jesus shirt, and have the bumper sticker on my car and the cross around my neck, I can sing L-O-U-D-L-Y about how I loooooove Jesus, but when I treat my friends and family badly, none of it means anything.
Think about it. What have you done in the past two weeks to continue the celebration of Christmas? What have you done that makes folks think you have no idea what Christmas is about?
Why does Jesus look like a taco? Maybe we should ask ourselves that more often.