Days after a mass shooting at a Michigan high school, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) tweeted a Christmas photo of his entire family in front of their Christmas tree, each holding some form of semi-automatic weapon. The caption Massie used was, “Merry Christmas! ps. Santa, please bring ammo.” Lauren Bobert posted a similar picture, except her caption was, “The Boeberts have your six.” ‘Having your six’ is a military term referecing ’we have your back.’ At least Bobert didn’t ask Santa for bullets, for I presume if you can afford the weapon, you should be able to afford the ammunition. However, based on how some legislators manage, I envision one, some, or many buying such a weapon saying, “Damn it. I forgot about the bullets.” I perceive neither God nor Santa ever thought a legislator would request bullets. Then again, I never thought that posting a photo of Santa applying for (or receiving) a concealed handgun permit was a good use of company time (like the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office). 

After backlash, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office stated that the intent was to recognize the Concealed Handgun Permit Office staff and did not intend to be insensitive. (Maybe Santa should ask Kyle R. for self-defense advice?) But really, does a guy who can slide down chimneys unnoticed require a weapon? Probably not. I think Santa (and God) have better Christmas messages.

St. Nicholas has a long history steeped in Christmas traditions. In legend, ol’ St. Nick is thought to be ‘Father Christmas,’ the man that brings toys to children on Christmas Eve. In the third century, Saint Nicholas was the patron saint of children, the protector of children and sailors. I presume supporters like Boebert and Massie could give a shit about the patron saint of children. The counterargument would be that the U.S. Second Amendment is a God-given right for some. “Of course, God is ok with AK-47’s. I mean God, told us to prepare for war,” a neighbor once said. God might counter with Ecclesiastes 9:18: Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.

Over the last six years, hatred has been weaponized on almost every level. There’s a litany of weaponization, from FaceBook, the environment, Asain (Trump’s ‘Kung-flu’/’China virus’), use of derogatory names for women, men, immigrants, medical professionals, ‘Karens’ (and male Karens), liberals, right-wingers, and so on. 

His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, says it is crucial to train the human mind. “Anger, hatred, fear are destructive emotions that destroy inner peace”. When one sets aside wisdom, guns become instruments of extreme violence. Fear, hate, and anger are views that we are separate and that only one viewpoint is best. Trump’s seeds of hatred lay dormant in the conscious mind. Other seeds, including despair, shame, and indifference, were dormant as well. Once nurtured, these seeds bloom and destroy everything in sight. 

And after experiencing God first-hand, I believe wisdom is the essence of His power. As a result, being a follower of God means one should always advocate for nonviolence. However, we refuse to listen to the words of love. And for the last five years, very few have heard to the Prince of Peace. No one listens. Plenty of words are spewed from many Christians and politicians, but none listen. As a result, God’s word remains exiled. I know God hears the groaning of the afflicted. He hears his people. But if we are not listening, then the dialogue of peace, love, forgiveness, and hope remains exiled as well.

Christ forced us to see one another. He forced us to look past our agendas and forced the unacknowledge to be acknowledged. If Christ’s soul made space for me, then I should be able to make space for you. And if I can extend the hospitality of love, I can invite others into my heart. If I can share a cup of coffee with you, then maybe I can begin to hear you. If I value you, perhaps you can value me.

The pivotal moment of Christmas is more significant than a manger; it’s about transformation. It’s about the possibility of something new coming into the world. It’s about changing our path. Christmas is not about guns, weapons, or having Santa bring bullets. Niether did Christ come to strip you of anything nor remove anything from me. Instead, Christ came to inspire and transform the world through love. He offers a life lived in love, to become ‘one in love’ instead of ‘one in nihilism.’ The better Christmas gift lay understanding that we’re all connected and that our differences are part of the greater whole. When we find the godliness inside and in the spaces between us, we will begin to see the illusions and limitations we’ve embraced.