"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Last week, I was with the boys at one of the newer mega-malls in St. Louis. It was morning and the usual pre-Christmas bustle was starting to heat up. There was a Santa Claus sitting amidst a mountain of Coca-Cola crates. There were tons of stores selling, well, I'd say more stuff than you can possibly imagine, except we've all been there. And most of it is just pretty much useless crap.
One feature of this mall is giant video screens suspended over the walkways that play music videos. And this particular morning as people were beginning to run around in their pre-Christmas consumer hysteria, the screens were playing a video from the early 80s ... a little number from the Band Aid group that put on Live Aid called "Do they know it's Christmas?"
Most of you probably know the song. It was written about people starving in Ethiopia in the 80s ... and since then with the advent of the AIDS pandemic things have gotten worse, not better. It goes like this:
There's no need to be afraid
At Christmastime, we let in light and we banish shade
And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime
But say a prayer
Pray for the other ones
At Christmastime it's hard, but when you're having fun
There's a world outside your window
And it's a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging
chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you
And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmastime
The greatest gift they'll get this year is life
(Oooh) Where nothing ever grows
No rain nor rivers flow
Do they know it's Christmastime at all?
(Here's to you) raise a glass for everyone
(Here's to them) underneath that burning sun
Do they know it's Christmastime at all?
Feed the world
Let them know it's Christmastime again
I really like the song, but this Christmas it has more meaning for me because there are real names, faces and relationships attached to it. But that's not what hit me about it this time. It was the juxtaposition of this song playing on the big video screens and all these people running around in a buying frenzy.
For probably a minute, I was literally paralyzed. I just couldn't deal with the disconnect. Wasn't anyone listening to this song? And, of course, I was there at that mall, too ... plopping down $50 on a deposit for Schroedter's birthday party at the glow-in-the-dark golf place.
But then I was hit by the even deeper irony. Deeper than this song and mad shopping resting side by side. The irony is that that people I met in Africa DO know it's Christmas. They know it better than we do. They aren't caught up in the frenzy of consumerism ... they're celebrating the incarnation of Christ.
Do they know it's Christmastime at all? You bet. The question is ... do we?
You might have noticed something new on the left side of the blog. It's an appeal to give to the people of All Souls Liberian Episcopal Church and Child Development Center in Buduburam, Ghana. This is a community of Episcopal Liberian refugees who do more good with practically no resources than I have ever seen. They know it's Christmas. They put their whole trust in God's grace and love, but they also need us to be part of God honoring that trust.
I'm asking you to take a minute and click on the Network for Good link on the left or right below. Click on it and make a donation to this amazing group of people living far from home with almost nothing to their names except an undying hope and faith (the donation goes to the Diocese of Missouri ... make sure you put "Liberian Refugees" in the memo line). Click and make a donation not so they can know it's Christmas ... but so you can.
Blessings to you all this holy season of Advent and always.
EGR resources and connects the church to embrace what one person, one congregation, one diocese and one church can do to make this mission of global reconciliation happen.
Want to find out more ... check our our website at www.e4gr.org.
"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."