Last April Eric, Katie, and I were hanging out in downtown Fort Worth with some friends. As we walked back to our cars, we passed a small crowd standing around a woman perched on a platform, preaching. Those of us who frequent college campuses are used to such spectacles: the fundamentalist “Christian” yelling at us, informing us of our impending damnation if we don’t accept Jesus Christ as our savior.
The group of us were walking past, when all of a sudden, homegirl used my child as an example for her “ministry,” saying something about Katie and the preciousness of life…before I knew it, I yelled back, “Don’t use my child for your platform!!” Looking back, she may not have been talking about Katie specifically, but she responded to me when I yelled at her. We kept on walking and the group of us laughed about it. If that woman only knew.
Anyways, the next morning, I woke up thinking about the exchange the night before and quickly became sick to my stomach. That woman wasn’t the only evangelist group we encountered in our short walk to the car. A block or so later, a group of men were preaching, Eric engaged, and they began to follow us. Pale, skinny, and wearing white t-shirts and dark jeans, was like a creepy flock of bats descending on their prey.
What made me sick, though, was the realization that in all my anger at these “Christians” the night before, I had been completely oblivious to a real opportunity to act on my own faith; I had missed God altogether. Exactly across the street from the first woman, preaching her anti-choice message was a man, in a wheelchair, with no legs, asking for money on a chilly spring night. We had walked right past him, even though I had a twenty in my pocket. I wished I had stopped, or gone back and helped him out instead of letting my disgust blind me.
On facebook today, a “friend,” which on fb can mean nothing, posted some “I’m proud to be a Christian!” status update, alleging that most people are supposedly afraid to claim that they’re Christian. Well, I obviously disagree with that…I think some folks are a little too proud that they think they’re Christian without taking into consideration what it was that Christ was actually calling upon people to do. So, being the passive-aggressive writer that I am, I posted my own status update in tacit response. I lifted it from a college friend, a preacher’s kid who really puts his money where his mouth is when it comes to his faith. But here it is, and I am so grateful to him for sharing it:
“No wonder Christ seems missing from Christmas—Christians keep looking for him in the mall. But don’t blame department stores—the real reason is somewhere closer to home. We can find Christ this Christmas when we look where Jesus told us we could find him: among the sick, the hungry, the imprisoned, the poor & the dispossessed.” – James L. Evans, pastor, 1st Baptist Church Auburn, Alabama
That’s what I’ll take with me this holiday season and the rest of the year. For me, that’s what Christ was saying, and that’s where we can find Him. For me, I’ll find Him in the fellowship with my family and friends, as I snuggle with my new baby and tickle Katie, and over a cup of coffee with a few moments alone with my mom. I’ll find Him as I kiss my husband on his 35th birthday this Sunday, and as I thank my wonderful in-laws for staying with the girls tonight. As I lay down in my warm bed in our cozy apartment, I’ll be thankful and think of all those going without this year. I’ll find Him in what inspires my writing and my work, but I won’t find Him simply in Christmas. That’s only one day a year, and God is always and every where. That’s what I want to keep holding on to this coming year.