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An Overdue Christmas List

Gifts under Christmas Tree

Let’s face it. Christmas is way more fun as a child. My eldest was excited by Christmas for weeks. She told everyone she could find what she wanted. She had the impression that her godmother was going to get her the prized gift she’d hoped for, and would not stop talking about it. She tried to sneak a look at her presents last Friday. She woke up Christmas morning and could barely contain herself. Every gift was “the best gift ever!!!” Even the clothes! For me, any joy on Christmas comes vicariously through my children. I don’t get a lot of presents, if I get any. And I am fine with that. As an adult I tend to get the things I want for myself, but the truth is that the things I really want for Christmas are things money can’t buy.

First, I wish we could talk about the current war in Gaza in a way that stated the obvious and better dealt with its complexity. I would love to say that it’s an understatement to describe the status as complicated, except the idea of complication and nuance seems to be lost in most of these discussions. For those on one side, it often seems like there is no consideration for the staggering loss of life, especially among civilians, during this season of violence, as if their humanity doesn’t matter. For those on the other side, there is a dismissal of the history of violence against a particular community, and how that history makes this group particularly sensitive to acts of violence perpetrated against them. I wish we could recognize that both groups are justified in their concerns about irrational hatred against their communities. I wish that both groups on a societal level could admit the harm that they have caused each other. I wish for a peaceful solution where the powerful in this context cede power and dignity to the oppressed.

Second, this Christmas season I wish we could have a more honest conversation about how race and racism, our national sin, is still a cancer that eats away at our society. The information is all around us and yet we refuse to acknowledge it. Racism effects where we live, the type of education we receive, the type of healthcare experience we have, our interactions with the police and criminal justice system. It affects where we go to church. It is the crack in our societal and moral foundation. So much would be better in our society if we would just reach back and address this seminal problem. I wish some people would admit that sometimes the only way to fix a tilted scale is to tilt it in the other direction. I wish we could have an honest conversation about why America never adequately addressed the problem of race and racism. I wish someone could tell me what people are truly afraid of. I wish we could sit down and candidly acknowledge and repent of these past sins in a way that makes us want to keep them from happening again. I wish we could address the problem directly with one another, and actually solve it, instead of some people acting like it doesn’t exist, while others suffer.

Finally, I wish we had a church that was more concerned with people than with rules. I wish we had a denomination that was less concerned about preserving Adventism and more concerned about growing the kingdom of God. I wish as a culture we were more welcoming. I wish we were as welcoming of those who have questions, as those who agree with our answers. I wish we were willing to come together to find answers to our questions. I wish we would cherish new answers that take us out of our comfort zones. Again, I wonder what we’re so afraid of. God can be found anywhere–people don’t need us to find God. I wish we realized that what people need is a sense of community.

But I didn’t get anything I wanted, so I continue to live vicariously through the kids. Maybe next year …

Title Image by Eugene Zhyvchik on Unsplash

About the author

Jason Hines is a former attorney with a doctorate in Religion, Politics, and Society from the J. M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor University. He is also an assistant professor at AdventHealth University. He blogs about religious liberty and other issues at More from Jason Hines.
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