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It’s possible that doing something for a second year in a row constitutes a tradition. If so, this collection of advent thoughts might possibly be a tradition. It’s the second set of daily Christmas thoughts shared on Twitter (and Facebook) to celebrate the year’s advent season. [I enjoyed sharing advent thoughts for the 2014 Christmas season, and decided to do it again in 2015!]

Advent is the season we spend celebrating the coming of the Son of God to this earth at Christmas. It usually lasts from the first day of December till Christmas Day. For me sharing a short, condensed thought each day during this season is a way to focus my thoughts on Christ, connect with loved ones, and prepare my heart for Christmas–mostly by seeing how the truths of Christmas connect to my life. This year, I was greatly blessed by those who responded to my thoughts and shared with me their own thoughts on God’s amazing gift to us.

Here is the collection of my own thoughts from this past Christmas, thoughts that connect to life as a whole, not just “Christmas.”

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“You know w/all your heart&soul that not one of all the good promises…God gave you has failed” ~Josh23.14b(niv) #adventthoughts (Dec01)

In the time of Judges, God used farmers, tiny armies, simple tools to deliver His people–is a baby that surprising? #adventthoughts (Dec02)

Is My hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? ~God Isaiah 50.2b #adventthoughts (Dec02)

“Were you born in a barn?!”–Things Jesus’ mother could never say to him (even if she’d used American idioms) #adventthoughts (Dec03)

Bethlehem, City of David the king who demonstrated that God has the heart of a shepherd #adventthoughts (Dec04)

Generosity finds NO VACANCY in minds filled by obligations & needs. We give out of hearts that know there is enough. #adventthoughts (Dec05)

The gift tag reads, “I see you and know you, all you’ve done, all you’ll do. This highly-valuable gift is for you.” #adventthoughts (Dec06) . . . You know, how you see yourself really determines how you read the tag, doesn’t it?

When Eternity steps into time, every moment of history–past, present, future–changes forever. Even mine and yours. #adventthoughts (Dec07)

Travel–a Christmas tradition: Magi from afar, shepherds from fields, Mary&Joseph from Galilee, Son of God from Heaven #adventthoughts (Dec08)

Because God loves His Son, He has given Him everything. Because God loves us, He has given us His Son. #adventthoughts (Dec09)

“Expect the unexpected”–sound Christmas advice since the days of Caesar Augustus. #adventthoughts (Dec10)

A gift can only be truly received when it is valued. #adventthoughts (Dec12)

Our value of the giver affects our value of the gift. #adventthoughts (Dec13)

Christmas reminds us we are valued beyond our performance; treasured for ourselves, not our abilities. #adventthoughts (Dec14)

One small gift is enough for the whole world. #adventthoughts (Dec15)

The real gift is the heart of the giver, not the stuff. #adventthoughts (Dec16)

The best gifts are always bigger on the inside than on the outside. #adventthoughts (Dec17)

The good news of Jesus Christ–if we’ve experienced it for a long time–can become old news. ~Pastor Dana Chau #adventthoughts (Dec18)

The good news of Jesus Christ is like the Christmas tree that stays green&fresh amid even the snow&darkness of winter. #adventthoughts (Dec19)

We are Jesus’ gift to the Father. Those who long for children of their own understand the preciousness of this gift. #adventthoughts (Dec20)

When Jesus arrives, it really is “the beginning of the holidays” and of all things good and true and warm and lovely. #adventthoughts (Dec21)

At the 1st Christmas Wise men traveled to the Prince of Peace. Wise men today take Him with them wherever they go. #adventthoughts (Dec22)

Poverty, sickness, broken or tense relationships, losses & helplessness (of all kinds) make a Christmas heart elusive. #adventthoughts (Dec23)

The griefs & the sicknesses, the poor, captive, or broken places–Christ was born for this. Christ was born for this! #adventthoughts (Dec24)

“Merry Christmas! Long live the true King!” ~Father Christmas (in Lewis’s Narnia) #adventthoughts (Dec25)

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” ~Julian of Norwich #adventthoughts (Dec27)

“We hold these truths to be self-evident . . . ” The words that follow this beginning come automatically to the American mind:

” . . . that all men are created equal . . . ” (and a few other “thats” follow in the first document of the United States, the Declaration of Independence.)

I just spent the last two posts discussing equality:
a) it’s a fact and not a goal and
b) it’s not as good a determiner of value as love.

Where, oh where, did we get the idea that equality makes us valuable?

We got it from God Himself. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” God–the only person who can love individually every being that He created, loving them both uniquely and possibly equally.

But who really thinks about love in terms of equality?

Well, kids do sometimes when they look at how Mom and Dad do different things with one child than with another and begin to compare those things. Sometimes they are right–one kid IS getting preferential treatment. More often they are missing the fact that Mom and Dad do different things for different kids because each kid is different and what would be fun for the one would not be as fun for the other.

We don’t really love people because they are equal; we love them because we love them. Because they are ours to love. Because we choose to love them.

And if loving them makes them valuable, then all people are valuable because God loves them all.

My brother’s economics teacher told a story about his brother who had been studying in England and had to go to the emergency room for a relatively minor (though uncomfortable and necessary) complaint. He waited, as expected, for several hours to be seen. Not so different from any American emergency room. However, while he was there waiting, a man came into the emergency room with a badly broken arm. He clearly needed more immediate treatment than the brother did, but he had to wait just as long. First come, first served. It’s all equal. That system, of course, is socialism and not Marxism per se, but the two are very closely related. Both of them use “equality” as their by-word and guiding principle. But equality is not as beautiful a guiding star as it seems to be. In fact, it’s not really a star at all, just a hard, cold meteorite of a fact.

The fact is that all men were created equal. No one has to make them equal, they already are.

But equality does not create value. And the funny thing about love (this just hit me) is that it raises the loved one from the original starting point of equality to the higher plane. When you are loved, you know that you are noticed, that you are more than just another pebble among all the other identical pebbles. By loving someone, you inherently affirm that someone’s uniqueness. Loving someone raises that someone from a position of equality to a position of worth.

Equality is what we have already; value and honor, love–those are the stars to navigate by.

So here we have the real difference between capitalism and Marxism/socialism: capitalism does one thing and does it well while Marxism/socialism try to do more than one thing and do both very badly.

Capitalism is merely an economic system in which individuals are free to make their own choices. It is only an economic system. It does not try to control the choices that those people make. If it did, it wouldn’t be a free-market system. It always works like it is supposed to–whether the free choices are based on selfishness and greed or on love and honoring others. By “working” I mean that it allows individuals to make their own choices and those choices produce results in a natural way–wise use of wealth begets more wealth. Greedy use of wealth begets more wealth, but only for a time. In fact, when you hear people talking about “the failure of capitalism” they are really talking about the moral failures of individuals and groups that have led to great losses. Capitalism did not fail. As an economic system it worked just fine and did just what it was supposed to do. The people working the capitalism left out the moral ingredients necessary to produce long-lasting success. In an accident you can’t blame the perfectly functioning car for the choices of the drunk driver.

Marxism and socialism are more than economic systems. They are attempts to ensure that people will make the right choices. These systems begin from the position that humans by nature will be greedy and will exploit inequalities for their own gain; therefore these systems try to eliminate human greed and vice by eliminating inequality. To do so, they attempt to control all individual choices–for the greater good. Because no one can legislate love, they fail miserably at righting the evils they claim capitalism allows (which it does because it’s only an economic system, after all). Because inequality makes everyone ride in the boat at the same time, they fail miserably at maintaining the greater good.

You can’t eliminate the individual and still maintain the greater good. Neither can you eliminate economics for the greater good. Owning and managing one’s own stuff is part of living and being able to do good. Those with more stuff have great potential to use that stuff to help other people–just ask the hospitals that each year write off thousands of dollars’ worth of services for those who cannot pay for the care they so desperately need. That benevolent action has nothing to do with equality. It has everything to do with value, with the value they place on helping others.

[Anyone care to poke a hole or two in my boat? 😉 ]

[Joyous Thirst goes political 😉 ]

On a teaching blog I read every week, a commenter left this comment on a post about the purpose of learning (“Why Do I Have to Learn This?“):

“Whereas the rules of capitalism said that if there were ten people on a riverbank and one boat moored nearby, they had to fight until one of them got the boat, the rules of Marxism said they all had to get into the boat at once, even if it sunk.” (kvennarad)

First, I had to laugh at the truth of the statement–capitalism does allow fighting for the boat while Marxism insists that everyone must sink together, since sinking is the only fair choice. Perhaps staying on the bank is another option, but theoretically no one wants to stay on the bank and everyone wants to get in the boat and so we must all get in the boat at the same time because taking turns presupposes an inequality. And above all things there must be equality.

My second thought was “wait, there’s a third option.” This is actually a false dilemma. There is something better than equality to be gained and to be practiced, and this something is “value” or “honor.”

Let me state it a bit more simply: it is possible for 10 people to not fight over the boat but to use to boat to help one another get to the other side. This helping one another is something that Marxism rules as improbable and therefore rules it out completely. This helping one another is something that is completely outside the domain of capitalism. I mean, capitalism does not and cannot dictate the morals of those that use its system. It’s only an economic system, after all! It can be practiced with disregard for others or it can be practiced with the principle of “do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” or better yet: “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

See, if the people on the bank with the boat treat each other with honor, then they begin to think “how can we all get across the river without sinking the boat . . . and in the most effective, least time-consuming way?”

And if they treat each other with value, they begin to evaluate their own and each other’s strengths (who here knows how to manage a boat?), weaknesses (does anyone get seasick?), and needs (you’re a doctor on your way to deliver a baby? we need to get you across right away!). They also evaluate their assets (the boat) and liabilities (the river, the stormy night, and the limited capacity of the boat).

This allows them to use the capitalistic system of inequality in a way that benefits everyone. And yes, it is a system of inequality because, as kvennarad pointed out, complete equality either gets us nowhere or kills us all.

Oh, God of dust and rainbows, help us see That without dust the rainbow would not be. ~ Langston Hughes

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