There is a stirring in my spirit I cannot shake and a discontent in my soul I cannot silence. I am struggling to share the joy of my colleagues who are celebrating 6,000 people who have been assisted with toys and hampers in South Australia this Christmas in the absence of any recorded statistics of those we have assisted getting saved. Everywhere I look I see our message of "hope" buried deep within a campaign calling upon our community to provide the resources we have convinced ourselves will bring hope this Christmas. Somehow we have traded our prophetic calling to proclaim the Messiah for a cultural expectation to perpetuate the materialism of Christmas. There is no doubt the presents we distribute will bring joy for a moment, but that hardly compares to the presence of Christ who brings joy for eternity.
Our publicity and programming for this season centres around how much money we can raise by feeding off the insanity that drives people into shopping centres to spend money they can't afford. From the giver to the receiver, the only people who seem to really benefit from the "hope" we offer this Christmas are the retailers. The paradox is that society is being sucked into a vortex of spending, stress and social expectations that is drawing them further away from the things they really hope for at Christmas. In a genuine attempt to fill a void at Christmas time we seem to be inadvertently magnifying the things people don't have instead of magnifying the One they could have!
Maybe my perception of our message this Christmas is overstated or generalised, but the uncomfortable truth is that I think it is closer to reality than we are prepared to speak out. There is an enormous 'white elephant' sitting in the middle of our Christmas outreach endeavours that is largely being ignored or justified away. I hope this provocative reflection stimulates robust discussion among all Christ followers to have the courage to acknowledge the 'white elephant' and challenge the status quo of how we do Christmas.