Appropriation vs. Sharing

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A few years ago, I purchased a beautiful piece of art that depicted our Christmas story, and gave it to a beloved family in my life. “You have things in your home from all around the world that represent gods and goddesses, Buddha, and more,” I said. “Since you celebrate Christmas, I thought you could add the Christian story of Christmas to your collection.” I’ve never seen it hanging in their home. Every time I think about it I feel the pain of rejection.

I am aware that many people in North America who join me in this Christmas season of joy and giving don’t know the original reason for the season. They may never have heard our Christian Christmas story, or if they have, do not accept the truth of God’s love that lies within it. Our Christian Christmas has been appropriated. Happy Holidays rings out almost as often as Merry Christmas. Buy this, or that. Give a gift that lasts. Yes, it’s been appropriated and is exploited. Our native people are speaking out about cultural appropriation, and we want to join them as we lament the exploitation of Christmas.

Lamenting destroys our joy. I don’t want my Christmas celebration destroyed. I treasure our wonderful Christmas story and the faith it portrays. Putting up the Christmas lights, the wooden display of the word “Joy” in our yard, and our Christmas tree brings me tremendous pleasure. The smiles that people offer as they say Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday tell me that love is lurking under the surface of our world. As I watch the piles of toys and groceries grow in big cages in the mall, I know that people are sharing their blessings with others. I feel the joy of our Christmas story as we gather at church, at dances, at parties, at programs.

What can I do about this exploitation? After talking with God in prayer, I’ve decided on a plan of action.  For the month of December, I will soak in and join in with any opportunity to experience the love and joy of Christmas.

As Tom and I decorate our home, I will give thanks to God who came among us as the human being named Jesus, and who dwells within each one of us today. I will let go of my laments and pray every day for the opportunity to share God’s love. I will give up judging those who celebrate Christmas without knowing what it means. I will use my energy to spread joy and love. I will do many random acts of kindness. I will live the Christmas story to the best of my ability. I will trust that God will give me opportunities to tell the story and be the story. This Christmas season I suggest you do the same.

By Rev. Janet Stobie

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