It could have been a truly beautiful scene. Only a few short weeks ago, all across our country, worshippers gathered outside their sacred temples days in advance, fasting in eager anticipation and in preparation for what they had clearly prioritized as the holiest event of their recent lives. And yet, in spite of all this devotion, preparation and unparalleled dedication to their common cause, these gathered millions across America failed in many ways to honor God. For they were not gathered with the Lord in mind, and their efforts were not to glorify His name. Rather, this incredible display of dedication and, some might even say, faith, was directed towards the release of a brand new gaming console. Their temples were the property of Sam Walton, their fasting the necessity of long lines, and the object of their affection was little more than a box full of plastic and computer chips. When observing displays of consumerism across the country, Daily Show host John Stewart even joked, "Can’t retailers wait until Thanksgiving to spit in the face of Jesus?"
Christmas has come to be predicated upon and defined by lies.
There are a great number of these lies that define the “holiday season,” one of which being that it is a celebration of all religions. Were that the case, would the schools and other government entities that perpetrate this myth not have off from work all holy days representing all religions during this time, rather than merely the birthday of Jesus Christ and sometimes, if we’re lucky, a day or two before and after? Though there is nothing wrong with respecting others and their beliefs, Christ’s birth is undeniably the source of the Christmas holiday.
The most serious lie about Christmas, however, isn’t the great hypocrisy of our decidedly secular government, but the hideous untruth that is perpetrated in millions upon millions of Christian households across America: the idea that a fat man climbs down chimneys to deliver X-box 360’s while flying roof-to-roof in a sleigh propelled by flightless mammals. This notion, apart from being untrue, is also strikingly un-Christian. Rather than relaying the true meaning of the birth of Christ, we have created and cultivated a society in which Christ is treated as an embarrassment, brushed aside, and all the while we lovingly worship at the church of consumerism, the shopping mall mosques, pouring out money that is often borrowed for the sake of teaching our up-and-coming generation the irreligious value of materialism.
The birthday of Christ has, in many ways, become disgraceful to Christianity. Yet the tragic irony of this appears lost upon the masses. As my pastor put it recently, “Does Jesus ever wish we’d just stop celebrating His birthday? What does it take to celebrate Christmas in a way that even Jesus would love?” Judging from the advertisements, the propaganda and the multi-billion dollar industry that has come to be known as “the holiday season,” it would clearly take a lot more than America is willing to give right now, but hope is not lost for the season that should about celebration.
All of this is not meant to make you feel guilty, because guilt isn’t the goal of this season at all. As Christians reflecting upon the celebration of our Savior’s birth, we should feel an overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude to Him. Jesus saved us from the eternal fires of hell; this is the greatest cause of celebration, is it not? For this reason, let us offer praise and think about how we might celebrate Jesus’ birth in ways that even He would love. Perhaps some of us can donate time, money or other resources that have been entrusted to us by God. Others of us might focus on removing that proverbial plank from our eyes this Christmas season. Still others might take the opportunity to forgive others for the wrongs that they have done us, the kindness they have not extended, the debts they can not pay. Whatever it is, as an individual or as a family or as a church, it is likely that this method of celebration might be more agreeable to Jesus than the materialistic ritual that has become shredding wrapping paper in a frenzy to get hold of yet more worldly possessions.
This year, undoubtedly the gifts are already bought and wrapped, the tree is up and the pictures of fictitious Santa Clauses and his flying elk adorn walls world-wide that would surely be better graced by the image of our Lord, or by nothing at all. Nevertheless, even if we are to concede that this season, like so many before it, has fallen short of what it should be, we can still take hope! God sees our hearts and repentance. Easter is also just around the corner, and the opportunity to re-focus another commercialized holiday around the truth about the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, the reality of His resurrection, and His gift of salvation for each of us, will soon be before us. May God grant us strength to redeem these holy days.