Ishpeming, Michigan † Est. 1870
Dec 2017-Jan 2018 -
It was before Halloween that I saw my first Christmas ad for this year on TV. Then it wasn’t long until pretty much every ad (except the ones for drugs) had a holiday theme. Along with that have come the pre-Black Friday sales, Black Friday first having crept backwards into Thanksgiving Day, now in some ways becoming a season unto itself.
From my Outlook articles from Christmas past you know that I’ve come to terms with this, acknowledging that what we are dealing with at this time of year are two, mostly separate holidays, secular Christmas and sacred Christmas. Secular Christmas celebrates our real national religion which is consumer capitalism; sacred Christmas celebrates the Incarnation of Jesus, a central feast of Christianity, Christianity being what some would like to think is our national religion. I also acknowledge that none of us or very few of us anyway, can claim to be holier than thou in this conflict because we all are attracted by various aspects of secular Christmas.
In confirmation this year we’re focusing on the Ten Commandments and most recently have been looking at the second commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” What occurs to me is that if we are honest, we have to admit that the blatant and excessive commercial aspects of Christmas represent a massive, national violation of the second commandment. Attaching Christ’s name to a celebration of consumerism run a muck is a case of taking the Lord’s name in vain. In that respect, for many, “Happy Holidays” is a much more appropriate and honest greeting than “Merry Christmas” because what they are celebrating has nothing to do with Christ.
What this does is to highlight the importance of what we do in church during this season. Despite my apparent Scrooginess, let me say that it’s not bad to have an early winter celebration of gift giving and good will that brings happiness to people. Despite the excess, there is much that is good about giving and receiving gifts as well as the fellowship that goes along with it. In church though, what we continue to do is to tell the story of the greatest gift of all. We observe the seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany not just to remember and celebrate a birth that happened a long time ago. We do celebrate Jesus’ birth, but we also celebrate Christ with us in the present and we anticipate the future and the arrival of the fullness of his kingdom.
It is a wonderful time of the year and the secular aspects of the season do have a part in making it wonderful. In church though, we will continue to celebrate Christmas, keeping Christ at the center and honoring him. We will continue to tell the stories of our faith, the stories that tell of God’s love revealed in and through Jesus, stories that are about the greatest gift of all.
Worship Sunday at 10:30