perceive Christmas through the wrappings becomes
more difficult with every year." (E.B. White
in The Second Tree From the
Christians mimic culture
more than mold it. Not always; but too often.
For example, our models for church in the West have
frequently reflected the corporate culture around
us - many pastors thinking of themselves as CEO's,
church members referred to as "stakeholders", and
marketing methodologies taking higher priority
Perhaps the "Christmas
season" has suffered the same
Biblically, Christmas was
less a season and more an event. That event marked
the antithesis of what most of us associate with
spend a lot of money; Christ was born into
poverty. We consider Christmas a "family time";
Mary and Joseph were displaced completely from
home and family. We hang lights and ornaments and
tinsel; the manger was lined simply with straw. We
give inanimate objects that shine, taste good, or
use batteries; God gave a person - His Son. We
gather in church buildings to worship the Lord;
God sent angels to the fields to announce good
Everything about the coming
of Christ contrasts with the ways in which we
"celebrate the season." The marketing gurus have
successfully seduced us to sanctify their plans.
Once more we mimic culture with little more than a
fleeting consideration of
no saint in this regard.
own inconsistencies shine like a floodlight amidst
the tiny flashlights of other people. But I desire
to be different. And the first step towards change
is acknowledgment of the pathology. I need to
diagnose and name the disease before beginning
disease is sanctified secularism. Christ receives
an honorable mention but is mostly excluded. And
many of us have become unintentional carriers of
The disease drives me to
catalogs more than to Christ; it draws me to malls
and distracts me with sales. I want presents, not
Presence. Give me the latest gadget, not the
ancient gospel. Sing about Santa, not the Savior.
Open the wallet, but not the home.
Of course I'll join in
the carols, listen to the preaching, and add
angels to the tree. It excuses the foundational
secularism. However, the Christ-event which
calls me to simple gratitude and humility morphs
into a season of impulse-spending, binge-buying,
and excess. I use sacred terms to justify myself ...
generosity, thoughtfulness, love, and family. But
I let the marketplace, not the Master, define
I'm not alone.
suspect the waiting list for this spiritual
surgery might be long. Am I a Christmas Grinch?
I'm too inculturated for that! But somewhere
deep within me an authentic light pierces the
darkness and beckons me to meditate more on Him.
I'd actually like that. Perhaps you would, too. I
know He would.
In HOPE -