Let’s celebrate a countercultural Christmas

In Myanmar’s ethnic regions where Christians predominate, the sounds of gunfire, fighter jets and heavy weapons have replaced the sounds of carols.

Dec 17, 2021

I have become a refugee, just like the Child Jesus, who also had to flee together with his parents.”

In Afghanistan, people are struggling just to be able to buy food.

In Myanmar’s ethnic regions where Christians predominate, the sounds of gunfire, fighter jets and heavy weapons have replaced the sounds of carols.

Mourning, prayer, and a resolve to rebuild follow devastating tornadoes in the US.

Thousands of families struggle to keep a roof over their heads … thousands more have lost their jobs to COVID-19 due to a ravaged economy, and tragically, thousands more have lost their lives to the disease.

These are just some of the headlines and newsbytes that greet us during this season of ‘peace on earth and goodwill to all’. It certainly won’t be a Merry Christmas for many people around the world.

In December of 1962, President John Kennedy spoke of global humanity and world peace at the annual lighting of the nation’s Christmas tree.

He also brought the holiday’s message a lot closer to home: “It is the day when all of us dedicate our thoughts to others; when all are reminded that mercy and compassion are the enduring virtues; when all show, by small deeds and large, and by acts, that it is more blessed to give than to receive.”

So this year, perhaps we could find a better way to celebrate the Lord’s birth – by celebrating a countercultural Christmas.

Give the gift of your time, of your presence, to those you love. And give of yourself to the most vulnerable in our midst. Make time to look our homeless brothers and sisters in the eye, to share a kind word and some of what God has blessed you with, to proclaim, in the way you live your life, that God is truly with us. Make room for Jesus. Put Christ at the centre of your Christmas experience.

A countercultural Christmas would mirror the personal lifestyle of Jesus – simple. The first Christmas was radically simple. Weary travellers find shelter in a stable. A child is born, and his parents are greeted by poor shepherds (outcasts living on the margins of their society) and angels who proclaim “Peace on earth. Good will to all.” Family, hospitality, and solidarity with all humankind are the profoundly simple themes that surround the Lord’s birth.

A countercultural Christmas would surely focus our attention on the needs of others. We would become more responsible for the well-being of family members, neighbours and all those who are “furthest away and excluded.”

Christmas should not be an occasion for selfishness. It is, first and foremost, a time for thinking about others. Generosity is the spirit of Christmas. Self-giving and solidarity with others are the antidotes to depression, loneliness and the soul sickness that affects so many of us at this “jolly” time of year. A countercultural Christmas would focus our attention outward — away from ourselves — toward those who truly need and deserve our attention. Instead of asking, “What’s in it for me?”, the Christmas question should always be, “What can I do for you — this Christmas season and throughout the New Year?”

It won’t be easy to celebrate a countercultural Christmas. It goes against the grain of our modern inclinations and experience. And yet, one of the greatest gifts of this holy season is to see things differently — with the eyes of Christ who was simple, poor, responsible for others and unconcerned about His own advantage.

As we embark on our Christmas celebrations, then, let’s be more Christ-like and give a thought to the many for whom Christmas will be just another day of hunger, fear, pain, suffering, and loneliness.

Wishing all of you a blessed Christmas and a spirit-filled New Year.

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Phlip Charles Rodriguesphliprodrigues31@gmail.com
It would be better if this editorial carries the byline of the new editor. Readers want to know the identity of the woman in the photograph. Cheers! Happy New Year!