Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Has American-consumerism killed Christmas?

Can you remember the Christmas presents you exchanged last year?  I can’t either, but I can remember who I spent the day with.  While most gifts end up gathering dust, time and attention are both unforgettable and irreplaceable.  This is the time of year when we could use a reminder: Christmas should be more about relationships than retail.

Is anyone else tired of the Christmas shopping season starting before Labor Day and crescendoing the day after Thanksgiving?  Jesus was born in a lowly barn; the Bible says there was no room in the inn.  During His earthly ministry, Jesus said He “had nowhere to lay His head.”   When we lead kids to get more excited about Santa’s sleigh than Jesus’ Cross, I can’t see the Jesus of the Bible defending the commercialized Christmas we celebrate today.  

Maybe it’s time for us to relax when the cashier at the mall wishes us a “Happy holiday” instead of a “Merry Christmas.”   What has the annual plea, “Keep Christ in Christmas” really accomplished?  Each winter, many Christians across the country condemn local shopping malls who do not explicitly articulate the phrase “Christmas.”  Several K-12 schools will gain air time as reporters cover the worn out battle over Christmas pageants verses Holiday parties.  I for one am weary of these Christmas season battles.

In this consumer-driven chaos, Christmas has lost some of its magic.  Who can argue for shackling Jesus to the Americanized Holiday we celebrate these days?  When people who have never taken their kids camping, spend the night on Best Buy’s sidewalk or greedy hordes stampede local Walmarts every Black Friday -- we have to ask what does our version of Christmas have to do with Jesus anyway?  

In just one day, Americans spent $52 billion on Black Friday alone this year.  I wonder what half of that amount would do to alleviate suffering and poverty?   The spirit of Christmas, of generosity, of sharing, of God entering our space, the story of mankind being redeemed, this all seems lost amidst clashing doorbusters and rustling shopping lists.  

I can’t understand why believers fight for maintaining Christ in Christmas at the mall, when the consumerism we are perpetuating is contrary to the anti-materialistic message of Christ.  The battle we are fighting for, perhaps we should fight against.  Putting Christ back in Christmas doesn’t start at the mall, it starts in the home & our church.  If you doubt the real message of Christmas has been lost to our culture, go to Youtube and simply watch any of Jimmy Kimmel’s videos, “I gave my kids a terrible Christmas present.” Warning: these videos are highly offensive and have horrible language -- the swearing and screaming comes from kids under 10 years of age!  

I relish in the joy Christmas brings my wife as we trim the tree -- though untangling the lights doesn’t bring out the best in me...  I feel good about exchanging gifts with our kids and grandchild.  I love serving Christmas dinner and I anticipate sitting around the table with loved ones.  However, as long as our Nation’s rampant love affair with Black Friday/Cyber Monday rages on, the race for winning Christmas hasn’t even left the stall.

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