Friday, 21 November 2014

We don't own the holidays- How should Christians engage the Christmas season?

I've struggled for many years with the commercialization of Christmas. I believe strongly that Christmas is about the miracle of divine person-hood being incarnated into a living, breathing, helpless child. If that's too theological for you, John calls it "The Word was with God and the Word was God... and the Word became flesh." (John 1:2;14) It's vast and unimaginable, and it's great humility at its most extreme.

So, you know... Santa?
And it's that time of year now. The snow is here, the stores are decked to the halls, whatever that means. People are looking forward to time off work and school to be at home with the family. So let's ramp up the stress and get this sucker going. It's time to cram into cramped stores and parking lots, spend endless time going over our calendars with friends and family. Let's spend a bunch of money that we don't have. Why? Because it's Christmas?

But the biggest nuisance for me is the "war on Christmas." I can't believe how passionate people are about saying "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays." Or to demand that we call something a Christmas tree. But most importantly is the fact that it all begins in early NOVEMBER!

There was a time when Christmas was celebrated as a day. Then Christmas Eve was recognized as special occasion to include the story of Joseph and Mary making their trek to Bethlehem. Europeans later, much later, recognized a twelve-day celebration. The twelve days of Christmas was a very long celebration with tradition and meaning for each day. But twelve days is dwarfed by what we have today. A commercialized demand to make Christmas the focus for nearly TWO MONTHS! And whatever meaningful lesson we might try to pile into nearly sixty days is completely lost in our effort to get everything done.

But if you really think about it, the demand of a focus on Christmas for two months does not come from the Christian faith. It comes from Wal-Mart, from the stores who are trying to sell us loads and loads of junk. It's the stores who pushed Christmas into focus earlier and earlier in the year. Their sales projections demanded it. But the worst is that stores convinced us that to celebrate Christmas meant to consume. And we bought it. Don't think you've bought it? Then buy NO Christmas gifts this year... think you can do it?

Let's really consider this. We only fight for Christmas through the "holidays" because consumerism taught us to. And that's what it is. It's our own desires and personal demand of consumerism. It's not the really corporations' fault, it's not the liberals' fault, it's not the fault of political correctness or a pluralistic society. Christmas has been taken over because we allowed it to get taken over years ago, and continue to let it gen taken over, with our own consumerism.

The real enemy of Christmas is not Ramadan or Kwanzaa . The enemy of Christmas is not Hanukkah. We are the enemy of Christmas when we allow consumerism to become the focus. So this year when I am wished a "Happy Holidays," I will say "Thank you." And come Christmas Eve, we can bless each other with a nice "Merry Christmas." But most importantly, let's not make enemies out of those who aren't enemies, and keep Christmas a little smaller so that it can be a little bigger.

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