Phillip Burgess: Don’t lose sight
Over the recent Thanksgiving holiday I took a trip to Disneyworld in Florida. I have been to Disneyland at least a dozen times, but I wanted to see the sights and sounds of Disney decked out for the Holiday Season. I was not disappointed, as the amount of twinkling lights, tinsel, wreaths, bows and balls was only overshadowed by the overwhelming number of baby strollers. Disney is big business. Admission to the park is expensive. The food is expensive. Indeed, everything is expensive. To make matters worse, you have to stand in line to pay those big bucks for everything. And, surprisingly people do it! Indeed there were long lines to spend hard-earned money for everything. But really, $14 dollars for a mouse ear balloon?
Over the entrance to the Disney Animation Studios there is a quote by Walt Disney, “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing—that it was all started by a mouse.” Yes, a mouse started it all. Well, not really, a rabbit was Disney’s first success, but his studio went bankrupt and he lost everything. A sudden flash of inspiration led to the first depiction of what we know today as Mickey Mouse. A few strokes of a pen from the mind of a great creator changed the world forever.
The Holiday spending frenzy was also evident outside of the Disney complex. Media reports of long lines for Black Friday sales, etc. filled the airwaves. Indeed people camped out for days in order to spend money! The kindness of Thanksgiving was soon replaced by pushing, shoving, trampling, grabbing, and in some cases violence. As odd as it may seem, Disney and Black Friday are not that dissimilar. Both events involve large crowds and money!
Each year during the holiday season, our hearts and minds often turn to those less fortunate in our community. For two months, we deck ourselves in holiday festive attire and visit the hospitals and nursing centers caroling merrily with candy, cookies, and poinsettias. Then, for the next ten months we resume our normal routines and forget about those in need…as if the need ended with the holiday.
Wouldn’t it be great if every day were Black Friday at churches, nursing centers, hospitals, and relief agencies? Think about it. Imagine, if you will, long lines of people clamoring to be let in so that they can hand out clothing, cook for the homeless, volunteer, pray for the needy, or even write a check so that the ministry can thrive and continue. Wouldn’t that be great?
But wait, there’s more…volunteering and prayer never go on sale! They are always free, and you don’t have to wait for a special day to help others.
Christmas is indeed a wonderful time, and the giving and receiving of presents does play an integral part of our celebration. God himself gave us the greatest of all gifts, his son Jesus. From the mind of God, the Divine Creator, Jesus came into our midst and changed the world forever. To paraphrase Walt Disney, “I only hope that at Christmas we don’t lose sight of one thing—that it was all started by a child in a manger.”
Dr. Phillip E. Burgess is director of music ministries at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.