I had Christmas on December 1.

I know Christmas Day in December 25, but I had Christmas on December 1.

I’ve had this running argument with both of my kids that I don’t want Christmas music until after Thanksgiving.  They both love Christmas and given the chance, will play Christmas music in July.  I put my foot down and say “no and heck no.”

My rule of thumb is that we can start Christmas stuff (music and decorations) once the calendar flips to December.  So, on December 1 the race begins—the frantic shopping, decorating, standing in lines, eating too many sweets, stressor called Christmas.

So, what happens if I have already had Christmas on December 1?

How, pray tell, did you have Christmas so soon?  Here’s how.  The Rotary Club sponsors every year an event called Share the Warmth. Organized by Bunny Godard, we collect winter clothing—coats, sweaters, blankets, etc. and give them away to the poor.  It’s a pretty simple concept. Those of us who have plenty of those items share with those who don’t.

It happens to take place at our church, and this year it happened on December 1. Because it happens at our church, I just happened to make my way to our fellowship hall that Saturday morning… where I had Christmas. Christmas doesn’t have to happen with “chestnuts roasting on an open fire,” or “in a one-horse open sleigh;” It happens wherever it happens.

Giving away a coat to a lame man who came into the fellowship hall (where Christmas happened for me) with his walking cane, and who said, “All I need is a coat,” was Christmas to me.  He walked out a few minutes later with his coat and said “Thank you.” We served a blind lady and lots of parents with kids, who just wanted some things to keep them warm.
I have never in my life gone one day without food or without enough warm clothes. Never.  I have no idea what it would be like to be poor or to have no hope that things could ever get better.

Participating in the giving away of warm clothes to the poor is as close as I ever get to that.

If I read the Bible correctly, then God has a heart for the poor. There are many threads that run through the Bible and one of those threads is that God loves the poor and that we are to care for them. We are to give to them without judgment.  As the writer of Proverbs says (17:5): “He who mocks the poor, insults the Lord.”  (Be very careful what you say about the poor.)
When I hang around the poor, even for a couple of hours, I’m hanging around God’s people.  In Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor.”  He doesn’t say “Blessed are the rich.” When I hang around the poor, I get the blessing.  I feel closer to God when I’m around the poor than at any of hundreds of revival services that I have attended in my life. Maybe hanging around God’s people rubs off on me.

So, I could, I suppose, turn off the Christmas music, undecorate the house, return the presents I have already bought and welcome January because on December 1 I had Christmas.  Nothing that happens between now and December 25 can top what I have already had.

~Pastor Steve

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