Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Kardashians or Wenceslas? You choose.

A little more than one thousand years ago a good man chose to walk through snow covered hills at night to give alms to the poor so they, the less fortunate, could celebrate the Feast of Stephen, a holiday meal served the day after Christmas. The man's page ran behind him struggling to keep up in the near blizzard conditions. It is said that the page was only able to keep up by following in the exact footsteps of the determinedly generous, Wenceslas. The bit of knowledge, or history, known about Wenceslas is that he may have been brought to Christ by his mother who secretly believed in Jesus while surrounded by pagans and taught Wenceslas when he was young. Due to the righteous acts of Wenceslas, his household, his servants, and eventually many in Czechoslovakia were brought to Christ.

Nine hundred years later, in 1853, a carol was written to celebrate the generosity of this man. The true story became legend, and that legend lives on in most Christmas music collections. 

Good King Wenceslas was actually a duke. He was declared a king/martyr/saint several hundred years after his death by the Roman Catholic Church. Wenceslas goodness was a tipping point in the middle ages conceptualization of the righteous king (rex justus), which means that kings are righteous simply because they are king. According to legend, Wenceslas was murdered by a jealous brother positioning for power. Wenceslas remains are said to be interred at the St Vitus Cathedral in Prague, and are sometimes available for view by the public.

If you are still reading, you may be wondering why I took the time to write a history lesson today, two days before we celebrate God incarnate. 

Men are remembered for many things. Some good. Some evil. 

In America, (and I will try to not sound completely snarky here) we celebrate men who can throw or catch a ball, and we celebrate and give magazine covers to young ladies who strip their clothes off while dancing with giant purple bears. We give our Sundays to football. We give our weekends to the box office. We give our attention to TMZ and whatever Brad and Angelina are doing for fun. We have a funny way of choosing what is important here in our culture. We celebrate and give attention to odd things. We celebrate the carnal and pay very little to the spiritual or eternal. 

In one thousand years, no one will care about the Kardashians. 

In one thousand years, when you and I are enjoying eternity, my hope is that no one remembers Beyonce. My hope is that those who remain are still singing about Good King Wenceslas, or telling stories about Mother Teresa, or going to worship the Christ on Christmas eve. 

Generosity has staying power.

Generosity is a momentary act that you may forget tomorrow, but has lasting impact on the world around you to change it for the good. There is no way of knowing how many peasants, pages, noblemen, were influenced by one man's acts one thousand years ago, but we do know that his life was so relevant to those people that he lives on in song today. If given the choice, I'd rather be remembered for being and doing good, not being popular. 

May we all choose to live in such a way to affect one thousand years in the future not just to gain attention in the present.
Do simple good things for those less fortunate. 
Be a Christian in deed more than word. 
Celebrate the good, pure, and Christlike.

"Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." -Matthew 19:21

"In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." -Matthew 5:16

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