Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Letter versus the Spirit of the Law

Because the AFA takes such a legalistic view of things...seeing mainly black and white and not any gray, they find themselves in a dilemma. What do they do with the Gap now that the are compliant with the rules for inclusion in the yellow...and possibly even the green..... list of retailers. Since the Gap now uses the word Christmas in its holiday advertising, they are (technically) compliant. Technically, yes, but the commercial (which I really like) is very satirical and seems to poke fun at the whole issue. The fact that they are part of the brunt of the joke has not escaped the AFA. They are conducting a poll to determine whether the Gap's standing on their "Naughty or Nice" list (no kidding...that is the name of the list) should be changed.

Even though I totally disagree with the whole list and the whole premise of these holiday wars between the secular and the non-secular...I would have to vote...no...don't change the Gap's listings from red to green. Even though they now qualify for inclusion in the green list (since they comply with the letter of the "law) they do not qualify based on the spirit of the AFA law (aka rules and requirements)

Let me be clear. I totally disagree with this whole thing...the whole naughty or nice list...the Christmas wars. I am focusing on this particular situation as an example of what happens when we follow the letter and not the spirit. Dwelling in the land of black and white is not as clear cut as one might think. For me, dwelling as I so often do in the gray, I can clearly see that the Gap does not comply with the spirit of the requirements the AFA sets for inclusion in the green list....which is to embrace and honor Christmas. In other words, oftentimes when you filter things through the letter and not the spirit of the law...you are screwed.

Which in a round about way brings me back to something I posted last year at Christmas time. And I am going to repost it this year because I think it gets to the heart of what I mentioned in my first post...The Joy and Spirit of Christ. It is a letter from God to his children.

Dear Children,
It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My Son's name out of the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I didn't send my Son in December, it was some of your ancestors who decided to celebrate My Son's birthday at what was, in ancient times, a pagan festival; although, I do appreciate Jesus being remembered...anytime.
How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate Jesus' birth just,

If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My Son's birth, then make room on your lawn for the nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all my followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all the trees. You can remember me anytime you see a tree.

Instead of fusing over trimmings and traditions, consider giving My Son one of the gifts below this Christmas…

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing George complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up. It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5. Pick someone who's hurt you in the past, forgive them, and give them the gift of a future-free from the pain, shame, and guilt of yesterday's yuck.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile, it could make the difference. Also, you might consider supporting the local Hot-Line: they talk with people like that every day.

7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one.

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary, especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name. You may already know someone like that.

9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. Be sensitive to the needs of others. A few cans of food or a simple gift can go along way towards good will on earth.

10. Finally if you want to make a statement about your belief in Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.

Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Please, if you love me, love my children-all of them, especially the ones that challenge your traditions. I'll take care of all the rest.

Invite others to a Christmas festival that has more to do with eternity than all the trimmings and traditions of December 25th.

"Merry Christmas!" means: "I love you." - God

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