Stand firm against December sins, and January will surely reward you

Even with Christmas lights everywhere, the texture of Christmas as a holy day is fading. [Getty Images]

Who can stand up against December’s sin tradition?  Even most Christians are not planning to stop by the church on Christmas day. They will be elsewhere. The December wave has succeeded in even sweeping Christians away from their holy place. Even with Christmas lights everywhere, the texture of Christmas as a holy day is fading. As the church loses its hold on the Christmas season, new authors are seizing the gap and a new story is progressively being written: Staggering past the manger and other christmess stories.

December vice veterans plan for the Christmas season many months ahead. Among the veterans are inventors of new ways of doing evil. These open-minded and well-funded inventors run the vice research and production dimensions. They make vice remain trendy, more accessible and more dangerous. Among the veterans are recruiters. These are the vice salespeople who are masters at reframing the venomous question “Did God say?” The vice sales force has great charm. Even bishops and well-reputed virtue carriers are dared, not spared. The December vice gates are open to rookies! They have promotional offers, complete with personal coaches. Vice sampling is heavily discounted - even free in places. 

Sin-tasting does not suddenly draw one in. Samplers are very self-conscious and their experiments initially lead to wallowing in shame, regret and a rush to the confession booth. Fortification of vice takes repeated action. Frequency breeds familiarisation, giving vice space to study one’s moral infrastructure well enough to forge customised temptations. Often, the assault on one’s virtue system is not obvious but is camouflaged in benefits. The target is to weaken the power of conscience until it is overtaken by the speed of benefits. Vice, like politicians, comes with goodies. When one gets used to the supply of vice-delivered goodies, virtue begins to be sacrificed. When these goodies accumulate into a lifestyle then vice is mainstreamed.

December runs on vice veterans and their curious recruits. As the climax of vice, December is not gentle. Rookies are cast to the deep end. They drink deeply from the vice cup. The veterans make sport of them as they watch them stagger and wallow in the unfamiliar mud. No stands to help the initiates. Instead, those who can help them hover around them like vouchers, ready to feast on them at the earliest weakness. Some sin samplers even sink and die on their maiden vice voyage.  Both the vice veteran and rookie make active choices to arrive at their location. Hotel bookings in key vice resorts are made way in advance. That sin is sold out even three months in advance can never be an accident. No room in the sin inn! Clearly, December’s moral mess is premeditated.

Just like there is pre-meditated vice, there is pre-meditated virtue. Fortified virtue is intentional. The antidote of the December vice is acute virtue. This demands one to be brave. The December vice wave is high and strong. Its impact is so corrosive that it provokes the divine to enter the world! The only counter to the overwhelming evil wave has to come from the outer world. The evil wave is so high that it can only take a miracle not to ride it. Earth-made manoeuvres cannot impress the sting of evil. The antidote can only be outsourced – hence the entry of a child who strangely, rattles the king’s confidence. If the king was the licensor of evil, then what rattles him must be the vice-stopper.

A good answer on how to handle December lies in January. January is not known for parties. It is known for sobriety. Budgets are tight and expenditures are frugal. Relationships are critical and a high borrowing etiquette is crucial to get a much-needed boost. Arrogance does not do. January organically demands virtue. It needs courage to cast a year-long vision. It needs healthy relationships to draw from. It takes character to support the optimism. And all the prayer and fasting in churches tells it needs spirituality. As you stand before January, humility is as critical as ambition. But you would not need to bow so low – even as to crawl - if you had chosen thankfulness over self-exhibition in December. If you stand courageous against the December vice wave, January will give you a standing ovation.

We end chaotically because we imagine there is a January to sober up and make crooked paths straight. Paths we crook are harder to cure than paths life crooks. Self-made pain is more painful than pain visited by life’s forces. It hurts differently if you are a victim or an artisan of your pain. December advertises many pain artisan positions! December’s wildness is emboldened by the confidence of a corrective January. Because we have a January to cure us we kill December. Such an imagination of January as a block of time preserved for us is an extension of arrogance. Not the smallest unit of tomorrow is in any creature’s grasp. Nature hands us the future at her will. To kill December for the reason that you have January for your resurrection is folly.

As you experience December, how do you understand the gift of time? The answer to this question determines your plan. If you understand December as the height of self-celebration marked by liberal indulgence, chances are you think of time as something in your hands. But time is undeniably put in our hands by a force beyond us. We roll into the future on wheels of divine permission. Even when we talk of “buying time” we are simultaneously racing against time because time can lapse in the process of buying it.

The vice of “killing it” in December is largely informed by this faulty thinking that time is somewhat in our hands, thus giving us a choice to ruin some of it. The view we have of time is what makes December either a prayer or a show. For one who understands time as a gift over which we have no control, the year-end is way less arrogant. Such an understanding makes December carry a mood of thanksgiving and appreciation for the Source of time. Realising what a gracious gift time is, one leans towards finishing soberly. The sober finish also serves as a prayer for a granting of January at the pleasure of the Time Maker, Time Giver and Time Keeper – the Ancient of Days.

The writer is a PCEA Theologian and Founder,  Institute of Ethics and Youth Affairs.