To many of us the Christmas season is filled with anxiety. What to buy, how to get it, when will I be able to pay for it, who deserves what and where can I find it. According to the National Retail Federation, the average person spends $738 on Christmas. For the minimum wage worker, this is equivalent to almost an entire month’s salary. The median income for a family is $41,891. After taxes it is somewhere around $32,000. Somewhere between 16 and $20,000 is the poverty level for a family of 3, 13.3% of the families in Wilmington are below the poverty level. That’s about 6,300 children. Children in households that are desperate, that see life differently that we do, that may one day be willing to do anything to have choices many of us take for granted.
Today, the average family owes roughly $8000 on their credit cards and make car payments in excess of $300 a month. The average home costs close to $200,000 now that means you have to have an income somewhere in the neighborhood of $60,000 to qualify.
For many of us Christmas is a lesson in extravagance and not a lesson in sacrifice and responsibility.
2005 years ago a child was born, a child offering promise. We celebrate the birth of that child, we have fought wars to protect that child’s place in history and we congregate and worship the child worldwide in hope that our faith will carry us to a better life.
Suppose just for a second that this child born 2005 years ago was just a child, a human being just like you and me. Suppose this child had to be raised and nurtured by parents and a community to fulfill its promise. Suppose this child’s parents recognized that child’s promise, a similar promise or potential our own parents saw in us as when we were just born.
As an expectant father I cling to the promise my soon to be born child offers me. A promise of love, a promise of hope. It will be this hope that will guide me as I raise my child, the hope of a better life, of an unconditional love and understanding. My child offers me a hope for the future as I instill values and encouragement.
Suppose this child born 2005 years ago is my child, your child, a future leader, perhaps a carpenter, a strong loving human being capable of withstanding peer pressure and temptations.
Suppose we celebrate this season of birth in hope of our own children. Suppose this is why Christmas is for those that believe in it, in the miracle of birth.
Ever think about that? About creation, a child, a life created within a woman.. Ever think about how powerful that is? How important it is to accept the responsibility required to raise that child, to teach it, to guide it and protect it and nurture it. How important it is to share life’s lessons with your child.
But when we over extend ourselves, pile on credit card debt, work two jobs to celebrate life’s golden calf we lose the child, the hope, our future. We become too involved in our own life to nurture another’s.
You have to ask yourself why our young are so influenced by drugs and gangs and a lifestyle so foreign to ours. Are the parents of these young men shot down in the middle of Red Cross Street bad parents? Are the parents of bright – well educated middle class children overdosing on heroin neglectful? Are the parents of the criminals and the culpable victims of senseless crime guilty of not being good parents?
Sometimes other adults make it impossible for a parent to raise a child correctly, as they wish. A 19 year old did not charter a boat or a plane to bring in the cocaine or heroin that killed these kids. A 16 year old did not own the gun that was stolen and used to shoot someone. Lock your guns up folks. A 14 year old did not create a multi billion dollar advertising industry used to promote and influence our young people to drink alcohol as if it is a right of passage. But a 57 year old signs street hoods to multi million dollar contracts and prints tens of millions CD’s of gangster rap and creates a cult of personality that effects what our 9, 10, 11 year olds perceive as popular. It is a popular group of adult professional athletes and business leaders that teach our children about the objectification of women as sex objects. Adults feeding at the utters of that golden calf betray the parents of our young and prevent all of us by their influences from the promises that lay ahead.
Yes parents have a responsibility to raise their children as if that child was the child born 2005 years ago. But we as a community, as a country also have a responsibility to work together and raise all our children and to do so without profiting on their vulnerability. There are plenty of opportunities out there to get involved. Take your church group for a game of pool at the H2O club on Red Cross Street. Bring one of those big busses to a troubled street corner, walk about the streets of downtown Wilmington and see if there is anyone you recognize that needs a ride home. The cops can’t do everything, the courts and prisons are overwhelmed, people are dying horrible violent deaths. Get involved… get involved for my child’s sake, get involved for yours, and for God’s sake get involved for that child born in Bethlehem 2005 years ago.