Christmas Lists: A Meditation

It’s hard to tell just where we are with Santa this year. Maria and her parents are doing something of a “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” dance with each other around all the major issues.

But she did go to see him Saturday:

(Dennise’s iPhone)

And we found the list below in her room. It appears to be a draft, and thus the bad spelling. (She’s got my sense of spelling, which is no cents at all… Winking ) But I could care less about the spelling though, since I’m so touched by the sentiment:

Isn’t that great? Couldn’t be prouder.

And, lest we forget, another young girl named Mary –slightly older than my Maria, and much more involved with this whole Christmas story from the very beginning– spoke some powerful words long ago that we still sometimes hear today.

When she was told she was to bear son, Mary broke out in a long oration we have come to call the Magnificat. Looked at from a certain point of view, it’s also a list. Perhaps we could even call it the original Christmas list.
If so, it was not a list of goodies she wanted from Santa. It was a list of things Mary foresaw would happen upon the birth of the Messiah.

I have taken the liberty of bolding the specific items that make up Mary’s list, for your easy identification.

From Luke, Chapter 1 (NRSV, inclusive):

“And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for God has looked with favour on the lowliness of God’s servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is God’s name.
God’s mercy is for those who fear God
from generation to generation.
God has shown strength with God’s arm;
God has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
God has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
God has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.'”

Did you catch the items in this list?

Mary lists that God has:

1. looked with favor on the lowly
2. scattered the proud
3. brought down the powerful
4. lifted up the lowly
5. filled the hungry with good things

Quite a list, huh?

As you are busy exchanging gifts with your nearest and dearest in the next few days, I encourage you to remember this original meaning of Christmas. Christmas, as both my Maria and Mary seem to know, is about remembering the poor. It’s about remembering that God remembers the poor. If God comes to earth, then surely God comes into not only the most powerful and mighty places, but also into the forgotten and lonely ones too. If God truly is incarnate, if we can see God around us, then surely God is acting within the lives of the lowly and the poor.
A lot of folks I know who are not very “religious” sometimes talk about the ways that they see God in the world…
…through nature…through art…through music…through hugs and smiles…through the workings of science and logic….

All these, in their own ways, are examples of the Christmas story; because Christmas is about remembering God coming into this earth, and “dwelling among us.” Christmas is about the God you can see everyday, all around you, if you only have the eyes to.

It’s likely too late for you to do anything about it for tomorrow, since it’s already Christmas Eve now. But perhaps sometime over these holidays, you too will remember the poor?

Maybe you could make a contribution to an agency you trust. Maybe you and your loved ones could find ways to connect with, and serve, the poor in our society.

Maybe you could make a commitment to start paying opening your eyes to everyone around you….make a commitment to intentionally notice the poor, the meek, the suffering…and to remembering that God, far from abandoning them, gives them a special place on that original Christmas list.

Even better than remembering them just on tomorrow, perhaps you could commit to remembering them each and every day this next year.

Wouldn’t that make a difference?

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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