In regards to the Starbucks "Christmas" cup kerfluffle, I have nothing to say that has not already been said, and I think we're all over the ridiculousness of it. But the part that gets me the most is how silly and petty and irrelevant this argument makes Christianity look because true Christian beliefs are none of those things. I don't want to speak for Jesus Christ, but I find it impossible to believe that this gentle, loving, forgiving teacher would take issue with red and green coffee cups. What I do know is what we as Christians have been called to do, and this is what I want to focus on:
5 Things We Should Be Doing for One Another:
Feeding the hungry: I live in a city, and it's not hard to find ways to feed those who hunger. Drop off a bagged lunch to someone you see on a corner. Take food to a food shelf. Make sandwiches and take to an outreach center like Saint Vincent de Paul at the Basilica of St. Mary in downtown Minneapolis (our personal favorite) or similar outreach center. Serve a meal at a shelter. The list goes on and on. Make a pot of soup and take it to a friend or neighbor who is especially busy or burdened.
Comforting the lonely: The world is full of lonely people. I know I've been lonely at times, and the smallest gestures of love and support and friendship do not go unnoticed and can make such an impact. So, be there for friends, family and strangers. A kind word, a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, a card in the mail, a text, help with the kids, a hot meal, a simple, "Are you OK?" Suck it up even when you feel awkward or uncomfortable and simply be present for someone and be ready to listen.
Visiting the sick: Again, this can be awkward and uncomfortable, but being a Christian doesn't mean living the cushy, privileged, easy life. It means getting out there in the world and being of service to others in need; giving even when we think we have nothing more to give. Now, sometimes actually visiting the sick is not feasible, but volunteering to cook a meal or pick up or drop off kids or cleaning the house or running errands is also a help. Visiting the sick can take many forms.
Last year, my son ended up in Children's Hospital for an appendectomy, and we were so well taken care of by the staff, by our family and by our friends. We happened to be on the oncology floor where lots of kids occupy their rooms for long periods of time. We decided that this year for Christmas we're going to make up a box of art supplies to take to that floor. While there, my son, enjoyed making crafts and singing songs in the activities room on that floor. So, hopefully, our arts and crafts supplies will be enjoyed by other kids staying on that floor.
Clothing the poor: We live in a place that has four clear cut seasons. It gets seriously cold here. It's vitally important that all people here have a warm coat, gloves, hat, scarf or muffler, socks, boots and snow pants. Please consider donating new and gently used winter gear and any clothes. It's not hard to find places to give clothing. Schools are always in need of clothing and outerwear and shoes. Many churches also take these items, especially churches downtown.
Loving one another: Have patience and mercy with each other. We're all trying our best and sometimes our best may be very low standards for some, but on that particular day or time it's the best we can do. We would all do well remembering this. Who among us has not had a really, horribly rotten day or week or month or year and simply needed to feel loved? This point sounds like an easy one, but it may be the hardest: love others whether they love you or do anything for you or benefit you in any way…simply love others because we are all merely imperfect creatures.
These are the things I want to focus on in my life, and what I hope to be teaching my kiddos in the process. So, whether you profess to be Christian or not, I hope you will join me in serving those in need. If we focus on loving and doing and sharing and caring, we won't have time for name calling and judging and hating. This is my hope, at least.
Oh, but for the record, my boys said that the color red alone does stand for Christmas; that is, red is for the blood Jesus shed for us that washed away our sins…Over and out…